Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalists to Speak at Kenyon

The College will host a lecture series on contemporary American politics, featuring New York Times writer David Leonhardt and former Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron among other guests.


Journalist David Leonhardt — an award-winning senior writer at The New York Times — will speak at Kenyon College on Wednesday, Feb. 7 as part of a spring lecture series about politics and modern democracy that also will include Martin Baron, retired executive editor of The Washington Post.

Leonhardt will discuss his new book “Ours was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream,” named one of the best books of 2023 by The Atlantic. The book — and the talk with the same title — explores American economic history from the Great Depression through the Great Stagnation and its impact on today’s political scene. 

Leonhardt, who won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2011 for his work related to America’s complex economic questions and who writes “The Morning” newsletter for the Times, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Oden Auditorium, 107 College Drive.

The event — like the entire lecture series from Kenyon’s Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) — is free and open to the public. Parking is available on site behind Chalmers Library in the West Quad Parking Garage.

“The goal for this semester is to focus a little more heavily on contemporary American politics because 2024 is an important election year,” said Joseph L. Klesner, CSAD director and a professor of political science and international studies. “Leonhardt’s new book presents an argument about how diverging away from the kind of capitalism that characterized the New Deal has brought us to many of the problems that we're dealing with today.”

Baron, who has led three different newsrooms to 18 Pulitzer Prizes, will speak about his new book “Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post” on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. in The Gund’s Community Foundation Theater, 101 1/2 College Drive. 

Baron will discuss his time at the newspaper when it was bought by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013 and during recent attacks on the media. Baron previously worked as an editor at The Miami Herald and The Boston Globe, which earned a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal during his tenure.

“In each of these places, Baron was a first-hand witness as an editor of stories about major events, like the 2000 presidential election in Florida,” Klesner said.

Other speakers will visit campus over the course of the semester as part of the CSAD lecture series to address topics related to contemporary politics.

Lawrence Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, will talk about how the 2016 nomination and electoral victory of former President Donald Trump revealed the vulnerabilities within the presidential nominating process, particularly the role of primary elections, in the United States. His remarks on Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Oden Auditorium will be based on his book “Democracy Under Fire: Donald Trump and the Breaking of American History.

On March 20, Melvin Rogers, professor of political science at Brown University, will explore the ways African Americans from Frederick Douglass to W.E.B Du Bois to James Baldwin have fought for racial justice while supporting democracy. The lecture will take place in Oden Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. and is based on Rogers’ new book “The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy and Freedom in African American Political Thought.”

Established in 2007, Kenyon’s Center for the Study of American Democracy organizes conferences, lectures and seminars with the goal of stimulating nonpartisan civic and political discourse. It also provides teaching and research opportunities for faculty and students and promotes student internships in Washington, D.C.

For more information, contact the Center for the Study of American Democracy at americandemocracy@kenyon.edu or 740-427-5855. 

Click to download images of David LeonhardtMartin Baron (taken by E. Suarez) and Kenyon College.