Successful Parker Lecture impacts student body

Police violence Yale professor Dr. Elizabeth Hinton speakes to students in Ball Auditorium February 2 2023 – Communications

The Parker Lecture is a distinguished tradition each year. This year, students and faculty had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Elizabeth Hinton, a historian and professor of History and African American Studies at Yale University. Dr. Hinton’s February lecture concerned police brutality and reform, and it included controversial notions regarding rioting in the United States. 

The lecture was organized by the Chair of the History Department Ms. Hannah Turlish, who has coordinated the Parker Lecture for the past nine years. 

“I work from a short list of U.S. historians who are leaders in their field, famous, as it were. One of my top goals is to have scholars who are doing important, groundbreaking work, or at least to try to get such people,” Ms. Turlish said.

“Dr. Hinton’s book America on Fire was frequently cited as one of the most important history books of 2021,” Ms. Turlish said, “so that put her on my radar, along with similarly celebrated academics.” 

Then, the communication begins.

“I then need to contact the historians, which often then means working with literary agents or doctoral students who assist them, and then we talk about money and scheduling,” said Ms. Turlish. “This all takes many weeks, and often months, of planning and negotiation, and it usually needs to get done by the end of the summer, given how packed an in-demand historian’s schedule is.”

Ms. Turlish was pleased by this year’s lecture.

“I thought it was amazing. Dr. Hinton is an incredible lecturer and teacher who interacted in deep and meaningful ways with so many members of our community. She answered every question compassionately and with an obvious command of the long history of policing and civilian protests in the United States.”

After the lecture, students had the opportunity to ask Dr. Hinton questions in a smaller question-and-answer setting.

“The boys who engaged with the lecture and Q&A with their full attention and curiosity got a ton out of it. The daughter of former Head of School Davis R. Parker [after whom the lecture is named] attended the evening lecture and was moved to tears and thought it was one of the best she had ever attended,” Ms. Turlish said. 

The student body’s perspective of the lecture shares Ms. Turlish’s enthusiasm. 

“The Parker Lecture was the most meaningful time I have spent in Centennial Hall. I believe that the message about the Black experience and the view that other people have of us is rather interesting. I also enjoyed the way that [Dr. Hinton] spoke on these topics because it opened the door for not only black people to do something about the issues but also anyone who has a strong enough conviction to,” Third Former Gianni Word said.

However, Word expressed his annoyance with the ignorance displayed by the audience. 

“I liked the lecture a lot; it was extremely eye-opening”

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“During the presentation, I did notice that not everyone genuinely cared, and the ignorance that people have of the topic not only leaves me with some sort of frustration but also the need to help teach them and enrich myself. I have previous knowledge and understanding of the topics mentioned, but I do like the narrative of calling the riots what they are, which are protests,” Word said.

Sixth Former Ryan Davey also found the information shared in the lecture staggering.

“I liked the lecture a lot; it was extremely eye-opening, and while I have learned about racism before, this year’s Parker Lecture showed it to me in a different and much more personal light.” 

Davey also shared his experience at the evening lecture.

 “I went to the evening lecture where [Dr. Hinton] talked about a public dance that had been smoke-bombed by the cops, and she talked about the first-hand accounts of some of the people there,” Davey said. “Hearing about what the people had to say made it feel much more real; racism and police brutality weren’t just something on the news anymore.” 

Davey shared only one small concern about the format of the lecture. 

“The only thing I did not like about the lecture was the format it was delivered in,” Davey said. “I felt that the lecture would have benefited a lot from some pauses to break it up and let the audience know what was coming next. The lecture went from one topic to another very abruptly, so it was difficult to follow, however, that is kind of the nature of a lecture, so I guess I can’t really fault it for that.”