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Mershon Center Speaker Series
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Tommie Shelby
Prisons of the Forgotten: King on Ghettos and Economic Justice
Friday, January 13, 2017, 03:30pm - 05:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
Room 120
1501 Neil Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43201

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Tommie Shelby

Tommie Shelby received his B.A. from Florida A & M University (1990) and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (1998). Prior to coming to Harvard in 2000, he taught philosophy at Ohio State University (1996-2000). His main areas of research and teaching are Africana philosophy, social and political philosophy, philosophy of race, and social theory.

He is the author of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity (Harvard, 2005) and co-editor (with Derrick Darby) of Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason (Open Court, 2005).


King believed that racial injustice and economic injustice have always been linked in America. Tommie Shelby takes up the race-class nexus by considering King’s analysis of ghetto poverty. Like Jim Crow segregation, ghetto conditions are a threat to dignity. But they are also incompatible with economic fairness and non-exploitative labor relations. Shelby discusses King’s practical proposals for ending poverty in the United States and considers four principles of economic justice (each found in King’s writings) that might justify these recommended remedies. He also takes up the question of what kind of egalitarian King was and whether he is best described as a socialist.



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