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CALS Speaker Series: Dr. Imani Perry, South to America (honoring Maurice Smith)

Thursday, May 26, 6:30 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater (in person)     “Breathtaking…. Extraordinary…. In the realm of Southern letters it has no real antecedent. It is that fresh, that vital, that intellectually supercharged, that incandescent.” — Garden & Gun.   We all think we know the South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifiers: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the idiosyncrasies, dispositions, and habits of the region are stranger and more complex than much of the country tends to acknowledge. In South to America, Perry shows that the meaning of American is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole. “She’s the best of the best right now.”—Jon Meacham. This program honors William Maurice Smith, Jr., who served as chief of staff for Governor Bill Clinton. Cherisse Jones-Branch moderates.

Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. Perry is the author of Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, winner of the 2019 Bograd-Weld Biography Prize from the Pen America Foundation. She is also the author of Breathe: A Letter to My Sons; Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation; and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem. Perry, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chicago, lives outside Philadelphia with her two sons.


This program honors Maurice Smith.
Maurice Smith served as chief of staff for former Governor Bill Clinton. The program is to recognize and provide a forum for distinguished leaders who have modeled Smith’s commitment and service to state government in Arkansas and across the country.

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Date and Time

May 26 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm