January 20, 2021

Eddie Glaude, Ralph Nader Highlight Princeton Public Library Virtual Events

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University Professor and frequent MSNBC commentator Eddie S. Glaude Jr. on January 25 and legendary consumer advocate Ralph Nader on January 30 will be leading the conversations in two upcoming Friends of the Princeton Public Library (PPL) virtual events.

As part of the PPL’s series of small events, both sessions will provide wide-ranging commentary on current events, as well as a focus on recent books by the two authors, who have spoken and written widely on the Trump administration and the recent assault on the Capitol and its aftermath.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Message for Our Own is the title of Glaude’s June 2020 book and also the title for the January 25, 7 p.m. Zoom event, where Glaude will be joined in conversation with his colleague, Princeton University African American Studies Professor Imani Perry.

James Baldwin, as quoted in Glaude’s Introduction to Begin Again and on his Twitter page, wrote, “Not everything is lost. Responsibility can’t be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”

Glaude, who is chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton, author of numerous books and articles, and a frequent guest on television talk and news shows, has been featured regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, commenting on police violence and Black Lives Matter protests, and in recent days responding to President Trump’s actions and the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

Speaking on Morning Joe on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 18, Glaude pointed out “Dr. King’s sacrifice for us to actually make good on the promises of radical reconstruction.”  He continued, “What’s interesting about the recent moment is that we saw people sacking the Capitol in defense of a world that Dr. King sacrificed himself to destroy. Those people are clinging to a world that Dr. King gave his life to dismantle.”

Glaude went on to tell Joe Scarborough and the Morning Joe audience, “It is up to us — you and me and others — to begin the hard work of imagining America apart from this insidious view that some people have to be valued more than others because of the color of their skin.”

Glaude’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Twitter post reflected his customary balance of optimism and pessimism. “We celebrate the life of Dr. King on this day,” he wrote. “We often invoke his ‘Mountaintop’ speech and his words about the promised land. But sometimes we forget that before he uttered those words Dr. King said, ‘We’ve got some difficult days ahead.’”

All participants in the January 25 session will receive free copies of Glaude’s Begin Again.

The January 30 forum with Nader will also feature three other social justice advocates sharing their vision of a more just, egalitarian, and unified America. 

Richard Cordray, former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Obama; Princeton author, lawyer, and consumer advocate Carl Mayer; and Andy Shallal, artist, activist, and founder of Busboys and Poets, a cafe and cultural events venue, will join the conversation with Nader.

The 90-minute discussion will also feature a brunch, as Shallal prepares select dishes from Nader’s recent publication, The Nader Family Cookbook, which shares the cuisine of his Lebanese upbringing as well as stories about how his parents taught him social justice in the kitchen.

Nader, a 1955 Princeton University graduate, has been a  consumer advocate over the past six decades, publishing more than 20 books and numerous articles, continuing up to the present with daily tweets, a regular syndicated column for the past 50 years, and a podcast and radio program.

His best-selling 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile led to increased safety standards for automobiles and thousands of lives saved over the years. Listed by Life, Time and The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential Americans, he has run for president of the United States in four different elections. 

Nader, who does not use a computer, will be participating in the January 30 event by audio only. “I use technology,” he said in a phone interview last Saturday. “It’s called the Underwood typewriter and the telephone. I decided a long time ago I wanted to get a day’s work done, and the email, the iPhone — a huge amount of clutter, trivial stuff, nasty stuff, a waste of time, and it breaks your concentration.”

All participants on January 30 will receive copies of Cordray’s new book Watchdog: How Protecting Consumers Can Save Our Families, Our Economy, and Our Democracy and Mayer’s Shakedown: The Fleecing of the Garden State. Copies of Nader’s new cookbook can be ordered through Labyrinth Books at (609) 497-1600. 

Digital tickets, $65 each for the fundraising events, with all proceeds going to benefit the library’s collection of books and materials, are available at princetonlibrary.org/support-us.