New York University's
Institute of African American Affairs
and the Vice Provost for Faculty and Diversity


Orlando Patterson
 "Between Obama and Ferguson:
The Paradoxes of  Race in
Contemporary America."

Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Time: 6:30pm
Location:  NYU Law School, Vanderbilt Hall,
Room: Greenberg Lounge, 1st floor
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

Click Here for Program PDF



  • Orlando Patterson “BETWEEN OBAMA AND FERGUSON: The Paradoxes of Race in Contemporary America.” December 8, 2015 © NYU-IAAA





After two and a half centuries of slavery, followed by a century of rural semiserfdom and violently imposed segregation, wanton economic discrimination, and outright exclusion of AfroAmericans from the middle and upper echelons of the nation's economy, it was inevitable that when the nation finally committed itself to the goal of ethnic justice and integration the transition would be painful, if not traumatic. The prejudices of centuries die hard, and even when they wane, the institutional frameworks that sustained them are bound to linger. “

- Orlando Patterson from Chapter 1 of The Ordeal of Integration: Progress And Resentment In America's "Racial" Crisis.

Orlando Patterson, a historical and cultural sociologist, is the John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. He previously held faculty appointments at the University of the West Indies, his alma mater, and the London School of Economics where he received his PhD. He has written on the cultural sociology of sports, especially the game of cricket. Professor Patterson is the author of numerous academic papers and 6 major academic books including, Slavery and Social Death (1982), Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991), The Ordeal of Integration (1997), and The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth (2015).

A public intellectual, Professor Patterson was, for eight years, Special Advisor for social policy and development to Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica.  He was a founding member of Cultural Survival, one of the leading advocacy groups for the rights of indigenous peoples, and was for several years a board member of Freedom House, a major civic organization for the promotion of freedom and democracy around the world.  The author of three novels, he has published widely in journals of opinion and the national press, especially the New York Times, where he was a guest columnist.  His columns have also appeared in Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Public Interest, The New Republic, and The Washington Post.

He is the recipient of many awards, including the National Book Award for Non-Fiction which he won in 1991 for his book on freedom; the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award of the American Sociological Association; and co-winner of the Ralph Bunche Award for the best book on pluralism from the American Political Science Association.  He holds honorary degrees from several universities, including the University of Chicago, U.C.L.A. and La Trobe University in Australia.  He was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica in 1999.