Fall Forum

Each fall, Mass Humanities brings a stellar group of scholars, journalists, and public officials together for a series of public conversations examining fundamental aspects of our democratic culture. Past symposia have focused on the Presidency, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Supreme Court, the role of the media in our democracy, military and civic culture in America and the Internet and democracy, economic inequality, and racial conciliation.


4:30 – 6:30 PM, Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rabb Auditorium, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston

The Politics of Hope: Four Historians Take on the Obama Presidency

Perhaps no president came into office with greater challenges or higher hopes than Barack Obama. Where will future presidential historians rank our first African-American president? For what will he be best remembered?

Our panelists:

Ellen FitzpatrickELLEN FITZPATRICK is an intellectual and political historian at the University of New Hampshire. She is the author of several books including Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation and – just out — The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency. She is as frequent commentator on PBS.

Annette Gordon-ReedANNETTE GORDON-REED is a Harvard historian and law professor, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History, the National Humanities Medal, and a MacArthur “genius grant.” Her work on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings changed Jefferson scholarship forever. Her most recent book is a study of Andrew Johnson.

David GreenbergDAVID GREENBERG is a journalist and historian at Rutgers University. His writings appear often in The Atlantic, the New Yorker and Slate. He has written a history of the Nixon administration and he has just published Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency. Greenberg has appeared in two previous symposiums.

Heather Cox RichardsonHEATHER COX RICHARDSON is Professor of American History at Boston College. She has written two books on Reconstruction and one on Wounded Knee. Her most recent book is called To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party.