Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture


20081118As part of the BBC's celebrations of Alistair Cooke's centenary, David Mamet delivers this year's lecture before an invited audience at the newly opened Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California. The subject of the lecture is language, and it is introduced by the BBC's North America Editor Justin Webb.



Exploring the legacy of the American Civil War and its impact on race relations in America

Alistair Cooke was a British journalist and broadcaster, who presented Letter from America on BBC Radio for nearly 60 years. To commemorate his life and work, the BBC has invited historian Prof David Blight of Yale University to present the 2015 Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture.

Prof Blight is author of the acclaimed Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, which explores what he sees as a romanticized history of the American Civil War.

Blight says the great issues of the war were never truly resolved - especially the issue of equal rights for emancipated slaves.

At a time when the issue of race is at the forefront of debate in America, Prof Blight will explore how the role and experience of African-Americans during and after the war is often overshadowed by stories of brave men from the North and South.

Crucially, the schism over equal rights versus states' rights, which continued to divide the country after the war, has often gone ignored in favour of a more positive historical slant.

In his lecture, Professor Blight explores the politics of memory and how, 150 years on, the way the American Civil war is remembered continues to haunt American society today.

The programme is chaired by Razia Iqbal, and was recorded in front of a live audience at WABE public radio in Atlanta.

Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Editor: Hugh Levinson.