LaGuardia Community College’s 13th Annual Robert Fitch Memorial Lecture to Feature Historian Robin D. G. Kelley

LaGuardia Community College’s 13th Annual Robert Fitch Memorial Lecture to Feature Historian Robin D. G. Kelley
Robin D. G. Kelley

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (March 4, 2024) — The 13th Annual Robert Fitch Memorial Lecture at LaGuardia Community College/CUNY will be delivered by historian Robin D. G. Kelley. The lecture is open to the public and will be given on Monday, March 18, 1–2 p.m. in the Mainstage Theater of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (use the entrance on Van Dam St. near 47th Avenue, in Long Island City, Queens). To attend in-person, click here to RSVP (no cost). The lecture will be livestreamed on YouTube.

Dr. Kelley’s talk is titled, “Working Class Democracy and the Question of Palestine.” In this lecture, Dr. Kelley will discuss how Robert Fitch’s critique of American “union democracy” as well as his work on international labor solidarity can help us understand the current divisions within U.S. organized labor over the question of Palestine.

Dr. Kelley is a Distinguished Professor and the Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA. Dr. Kelley’s books include Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression; Race Rebels: Culture Politics and the Black Working Class; and, Our History Has Always Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies, co-edited with Colin Kaepernick and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. His essays have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Nation, New Labor Forum, and The Boston Review, for which he is contributing editor. He is a member of Scholars for Social Justice and serves on the board of Palestine Legal. Dr. Kelley is currently completing two books, Making a Killing: Cops, Capitalism, and the War on Black Life and The Education of Ms. Grace Halsell: An Intimate History of the American Century.

At the 13th Annual Robert Fitch Memorial Lecture, Dr. Kelley will be introduced by Doug Henwood, a journalist and economic analyst who has introduced every speaker in the series since delivering its first lecture in 2012. Mr. Henwood hosts the weekly radio show Behind the News and has authored several books including My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency; Wall Street; The State of the USA Atlas; After the New Economy; and My Turn. From 1986–2013 he published Left Business Observer, a newsletter on economics and politics.

Previous speakers at the Annual Robert Fitch Memorial Lecture:

2023: Cindi Katz
2022: Kim Phillips-Fein
2021: Suketu Mehta
2019: Tarry Hum
2019: Richard Walker
2018: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
2017: Peter Marcuse
2016: Peter Kwong
2015: Sharon Zukin
2014: Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore
2013: John Halle
2012: Doug Henwood

The annual Robert Fitch Memorial Lecture is presented by LaGuardia’s Social Sciences Department in honor of Dr. Robert Fitch, who taught in the department from 1993 to 2011. The first lecture was held in 2012, the year after Dr. Fitch unexpectedly passed at age 72. The series is made possible by the generosity of the late Jane LaTour. “Bob was an inspirational and versatile teacher who taught many different courses in two disciplines: sociology and political science. He was also a prolific writer and a tireless activist,” Karen Miller, Ph.D., professor of history at LaGuardia Community College, and chair of the lecture planning committee.

Dr. Fitch received his Ph.D. in sociology from SUNY Binghamton, his M.A. in Economic History from the University of California, Berkeley, and his B.A. in history from the University of Illinois. A union activist since his teens, he wrote numerous articles about the labor movement, political corruption, political economy, welfare and poverty, race, and affirmative action, for publications including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Village Voice, The Nation, Washington Post, Newsday, City Limits, and Gotham Gazette. He was an occasional guest and commentator on TV and radio programs. Dr. Fitch published four books, including Ghana: End of An Illusion (1968), The Assassination of New York (1993), and Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America’s Promise (2006). For more about Dr. Fitch, here are links to tributes written by friends and colleagues about him, published in The Nation, Jacobin, and Dissent Magazine.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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