February 23, 2021

Emily Schettler


Registration open for Harkin Institute Sussman Lecture featuring 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones


Registration is open for The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University’s virtual spring Sussman Lecture, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

The Sussman Lecture is part of an ongoing community-wide discussion about systemic oppression and racial equity. Hannah-Jones will speak at the virtual event on Thursday, April 8. Registration is available online.

Hannah-Jones covers civil rights and racial injustice as an investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine and is creator of the 1619 Project, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2020.

“Hearing—let alone giving space for—various historical perspectives allows us to fully understand the experiences of all of our country’s people,” said Joseph Jones, executive director of The Harkin Institute. “This project gives voice to the historical perspectives not often featured in our classrooms or conversations.”

Hannah-Jones’ discussion has been a long time in the making. The Harkin Institute and other Des Moines-area organizations first began planning for the journalist’s visit in the fall of 2019, but those plans were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drake University Religion Professor Jennifer Harvey will lead the moderated discussion with Hannah-Jones. Harvey’s work focuses primarily on racial injustice and white anti-racism and her most recent book Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, was published in 2018.

Hannah-Jones grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, and found her passion for journalism while working for her high school newspaper. She is a cofounder of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit that provides training and mentorship for journalists of color pursuing careers in investigative reporting.

During her virtual visit to Des Moines, Hannah-Jones will also speak with area youth. The Sussman Lecture follows a seven-session educational experience offered by the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, which aims to provide participants a better understanding of how beliefs and systems of racial oppression continue to impact the Greater Des Moines community today, as well as what can be done to create a different future.

Established by Richard Sussman, AS’51, in memory of his late wife, Lila, the Sussman Lecture Series takes place twice a year and invites notable public figures to discuss timely topics. Past Sussman speakers include Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi; NASA Chief Historian Bill Barry; and Celine Cousteau, a French explorer, education ambassador, and documentary film maker.


The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University exists to inform citizens, inspire creative cooperation, and catalyze change on issues of social justice, fairness, and opportunity. Founded on the premise that good public policy is best achieved when policymakers have access to high quality information, political processes are open and well-understood, and citizens are informed and active participants, The Harkin Institute offers programming, experiences, research, and connectivity focused on the areas that defined Senator Harkin’s career: labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition.

Address: 2429 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311 Phone: 515-271-3623 Fax Number: 515-271-3631 Email: harkininstitute@drake.edu Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.