In a nod to his versatility, JAY-Z took to the Ivy Leagues to give a lecture on his impact on African-American culture.

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On February 4, Columbia University’s African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS) Department launched the Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter Lecture Series.

Carter spoke to Jelani Cobb, Columbia’s Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, staff writer for The New Yorker. The program covered a number of themes in African American life and culture. Carter’s career in music, his legacy as an artist, activism and philanthropy were the highlights of the lecture.


“We can all dazzle each other with language,” Carter said via release. “But we need to get down to the honesty of what’s happening.”

The series will draw inspiration from Carter’s multimedia success. It will also spotlight public intellectuals, artists, musicians, dancers, writers and activists, as well as scholars and other noteworthy people. All speakers will have had to make a major contribution to our understanding of African American and African Diaspora Studies.

“The Carter Lecture Series sits at the heart of our mission to create and sustain an intellectual community bridging scholarship, teaching and public life,” said Farah Jasmine Griffin, chair of AAADS.

The series is the first named and endowed program in the Department. AAADS was established in 2018.