Nick Lemann is the Dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism and a former New Yorker staff writer. While at Harvard – where he graduated in 1976 – Lemann served as President of the Crimson. He has worked as a reporter and editor at The Washington Monthly, Texas Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Post, focusing primarily on national affairs.
Lemann is the author of The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy, about the SAT, and most recently, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, about the failure of Reconstruction. At Columbia, where he was hired as Dean of the Journalism School in 2003, Lemann implemented a two-year curriculum and has focused on teaching alternative journalistic mediums in the Internet age.
Nicholas Lemann: Well no. I mean nobody is. I would say though, you know, I don’t wanna at all go anywhere near constructs like race relations have never been worse in America. Because if you know the history . . . You know I just . . . I just . . . My last book was about reconstruction. Race relations are so much better now than they were then. It’s sort of unbelievable. We’re in a period now where the race issue is not front and center in the national consciousness. And that has some good effects and some bad effects. But that’s kind of my read – is in my lifetime, this is a low point in the level of national awareness of, you know, Black-White U.S. relations as a primo issue towering over all others. And that’s for a number of reasons, including demographic factors.
Recorded on: 11/30/07