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W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture

In annual lecture, major writers and thinkers reflect on the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois and how his scholarship and activism inspires us today.

Established in 1996, the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Lecture is given each year by a distinguished individual whose own achievements carry on the legacy of Du Bois, with recent visitors including David Levering Lewis, Lorene Cary, John Edgar Wideman, Sonia Sanchez, and Penelope Andrews. The Lecture is one of many ways Simon’s Rock draws inspiration from Du Bois.


Dr. Pamela Larde

Dr. Pamela Larde

2022 speaker

Dr. Pamela Larde, a professor, coach, award-winning author, business owner, and Director of Education at Harvard/McLean’s Institute for Coaching, delivered the 25th Lecture. A founder and owner of two companies, Tandem Light Press and the Academy of Creative Coaching, and host of a podcast and TV show, The Joy Whisperer, Larde drew from her expertise as an author, researcher, and coach focusing on race and gender dynamics, self-motivation, joy resilience, and post-traumatic growth.

Dr. Shana Russell

Dr. Shana Russell

2021 speaker*

Dr. Shana Russell, literary scholar, historian, storyteller, organizer, and assistant professor of English at Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) Newark, delivered the 24th Lecture. A board member of the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison, Russell drew from her expertise as a domestic worker rights movements scholar and a public historian to discuss her own experience with organizing and with the #CloseRikers movement, an effort demanding the closure of the New York City jail complex and the reinvestment of capital to community support programs. Russell shared her thoughts on how teaching, learning, and equity in education can contribute to broader social change movements.

Taylor headshot

Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

2019 speaker

Dr. Taylor, who delivered the 23rd lecture, is the author of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective and From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. She was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book as well as the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ nonfiction.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian Eric Foner

Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Eric Foner

2018 speaker

The 22nd lecture was delivered by Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University, and author. His lecture coincided with the 150th anniversary celebration of W.E.B. Du Bois.

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks

2017 speaker

The 21st lecture was delivered by Cornell William Brooks, in partnership with the The Center for Early College at Bard College, the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP, Multicultural BRIDGE, and the Town of Great Barrington.

Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr.

Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr.

2016 speaker

The 20th lecture was given by Dr. Lafayette, who is a civil rights movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and an authority on the strategy of nonviolent social change.


2015: Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts

2014: Penelope Andrews, 17th President & Dean of Albany Law School

2013: Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University

2012: Lewis Gordon, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies, with affiliations in African American Studies and Religion, Temple University

2010: Joan Countryman, former Head of Lincoln School, former Interim Head of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa

2009: Faith Ringgold, Professor of Art, University of California at San Diego

2008: John Edgar Wideman, Asa Messer Professor of Africana Studies and English, Brown University

2007: Yaw Bredwa-Mensah, lecturer and archeologist, University of Ghana

2006: Leon E. Wynter, journalist and essayist

2005: Tricia Rosem, Professor of American Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz

2004: Lani Guinier, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

2003: Veronica Chambers ’87, author and editor

2002: Manning Marable, Professor of History and Political Science, Columbia University

2001: John H. McWhorter ’81, Associate Professor of Linguistics and African American Studies, University of California, Berkeley

2000: James H. Meredith, Founder & President of The Meredith Institute

1999: David Levering Lewis, Martin Luther King Professor of History, Rutgers University

Students interested in exploring the “real world” implications and emancipatory possibilities of their work can concentrate in Social Action, Social Change.

1998: David L. Smith, Francis Christopher Oakley Professor of English & Dean of the Faculty, Williams College

1997: Sonia Sanchez, Laura Carnell Professor of English, Temple University

1996: Roger W. Wilkins, Robinson Professor of History, George Mason University


* Due to COVID restrictions, there was no lecture in 2020.
The W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Lecture is supported by a grant from The Spingold Foundation, Inc.