“It couldn’t happen here, not in 2017.” This is the soothing delusion many of us have recited over the past year, but its potency is waning—and now it’s time to act. This week we look at five Lavin speakers—Jelani Cobb, Reza Aslan, Angie Thomas, Megan Phelps-Roper, and Matt Taibbi—who seek to transform the world through empathy, education, and activism.
Jelani Cobb knows that when it comes to race, there are no easy answers and no isolated incidents. As award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker, and professor of journalism at Columbia University, his analyses are subtle and vivid at once, bolstering his authority as a historian with the immediacy of a reporter.
With natural charisma and a near instinctive understanding of people and their traditions, Reza Aslan is dismantling Islamophobia’s foothold in America—and shows how we can all work together to create a more equitable world. His book Zealot was a #1 New York Times bestseller, and his latest, God: A Human History, arrives this fall to much anticipation.
“Books are a form of activism because they can show us a world that we didn’t know about,” says Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. It’s also widely considered to be the first Black Lives Matter novel, “a classic of our time,” (NYT), and “the best and most important book of the year” (EW). With praise rolling in and a film adaptation forthcoming, Thomas shows what racism really looks like, who it hurts, and what can be done about it.
“We must extend empathy and compassion to the people who show us hostility and contempt,” says Megan Phelps-Roper, once a member of the virulently intolerant Westboro Baptist Church, now one of the rare defectors. In her stunning TED Talk and major New Yorker profile, she extols the transformative power of empathy, hope, and courage, providing the living proof that anyone can question their world, and change it if they want to.
Matt Taibbi is one of the smartest and funniest chroniclers of the American spectacle: political, economic, and corporate. “He is one of the few journalists in America who speaks truth to power,” says Bernie Sanders—and that’s also an apt description of Taibbi’s approach to independent reporting. His analysis of Trump’s rise to power has set a new standard for political journalism, and his book Insane Clown President is a New York Times bestseller. His upcoming crime journalism book I Can’t Breathe is already generating rave reviews.
To book an activism or social change keynote speaker, such as Jelani Cobb, Reza Aslan, Angie Thomas, Megan Phelps-Roper or Matt Taibbi for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today.