What They Said
John Allen Paulos February 25, 2004
Olin Science Lecture, “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper,” sponsored by the F. W. Olin Fund for Science (part of the College’s 75th anniversary celebration)
Being able to put numbers into perspective, to have a visceral feel for them, is important. For example, think of the difference between a million, a billion and a trillion. A million seconds takes about eleven and a half days to tick by; whereas a billion seconds takes 32 years, and a trillion seconds about 32,000 years. We often lump them together—maybe because they rhyme—but in reality they’re very different.
John Allen Paulos is a professor of mathematics at Temple University whose books include A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market, published in 2003.
John D'Emilio March 4, 2004
Lecture on Bayard Rustin, pacifist, civil rights activist and organizer of the 1963 march on Washington, sponsored by LGBT Studies, Africana Studies, Global Studies and Women’s History
The effects of homophobia on the course of American history have been incalculable. When I was writing this book, I interviewed many of Rustin’s colleagues from his early days as an activist. Many had not seen him in decades, but they all remembered him vividly from the 1940’s, when they worked together. Virtually every one of them said the same thing: “We thought he would become our American Gandhi.” There may be all sorts of reasons why that didn’t happen, but homophobia is certainly one of them. It was not possible, in that generation, for someone known to be gay to rise to a position of such influence in public life.
John D’Emilio, professor of history and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, published Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, in 2003.
Amy Goodman March 5, 2004
“Independent Media in a Time of War and Elections,” co-sponsored by the Women’s History Graduate Program and the Westchester League of Women Voters
I interviewed a woman from Guyana, and when it ended I began to prepare for the next one, with a group of people talking about the U.S. election. I expected her to leave, but she said, “No, I want to be a part of that discussion. I think everyone in the world should get to vote for U.S. president.” Think about it: what person has more of an effect on people, not only in this country but around the world?
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of the Pacifica Radio network’s “Democracy NOW!” and a documentary filmmaker.
Geoffrey Canada April 1, 2004
Seventeenth Annual Longfellow Lecture: “Violence and Education: The Twin Crises Facing America’s Children”
What is killing us? I realized it was all the things we learned as boys. There’s a mythology of maleness that most boys grow up believing in. It says boys are tough, they don’t cry, they need no help. They can take anything. Any outward appearance of an emotion that might suggest weakness could doom you to losing your manhood. Boys are taught that your manhood is something that someone can simply snatch away if you’re not prepared to fight, and sometimes to die. If you wonder why a 15-year-old kid would die over a pair of sneakers, it’s not the sneakers. It’s the belief that in letting someone take something from you they are robbing you of your manhood, and you’ll never be able to get it back.
Geoffrey Canada is the president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., and author of Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and Reaching Up for Manhood.