Cal-Berkeley Professor Emeritus to Discuss Diversity at Voices of America lecture


One of the nation’s most preeminent scholars on the subjects of race and immigration in American history, University of California-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Professor Emeritus Ronald Takaki, will present “America in a Different Mirror: Re-Visioning History” as the second in the four-part Voices of America Distinguished Lecture Series at Colorado State University-Pueblo on Nov. 13. The event will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom on the CSU-Pueblo campus. Copies of Takaki’s books will be available for sale that evening courtesy of the CSU-Pueblo Bookstore, and Takaki will sign books following his presentation.

In addition, Takaki will hold a workshop for K-12 teachers from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 in the OUC Cottonwood Room (202). Teachers attending the workshop will receive a complimentary copy of Takaki’s award-winning A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.

Both events are free, and the evening presentation is open to the public, but because of limited seating, tickets for the evening event must be obtained. Educators may reserve space for the afternoon workshop and/or tickets (limit of 4 per person) for the evening presentation starting Oct. 25 by calling the CSU-Pueblo History Department at 719-369-3026. Other individuals may obtain tickets for the evening (limit four) by calling 719-549-2810 or picking them up in 320 Administration on the CSU-Pueblo campus.

The lecture series is made possible by a grant co-sponsored by CSU-Pueblo’s history department, Pueblo School District 70, and a consortium of 16 southeastern Colorado school districts under the umbrella of the Southern Colorado Teacher Education Alliance. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The grant aims to improve K-12 school history programs through professional development for regional American history teachers. The series will continue in 2008 with Presidential commentator and Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin on Feb. 19, 2008, and author and former University of Vermont Professor James Loewen on May 13, 2008.

Takaki is a professor emeritus of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught more than 10,000 students during 34 years of teaching. Born in 1939, Takaki is the grandson of immigrant Japanese plantation workers in Hawaii. A 1961 graduate of the College of Wooster (Ohio), he earned his Ph.D. in American history from UC Berkeley and went on to UCLA to teach its first Black history course. While there, he helped to found its centers for African-American, Asian-American, Mexican-American, and Native American studies.

In 1972, Takaki returned to Berkeley to teach in the newly instituted Department of Ethnic Studies, where he served as department chair from 1975-77. His course, Ethnic Studies 130, “The Making of Multicultural America: A Comparative Historical Perspective,” provided the conceptual framework for the B.A. program and the Ph.D. program in Comparative Ethnic
Studies as well as for the university’s multicultural requirement for graduation, known as the American Cultures Requirement.

The Berkeley faculty has honored Takaki with a Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1988, Takaki was awarded the Goldwin Smith University Lectureship at Cornell University, and in 1993, Cornell’s Distinguished Messenger Lectureship, the university’s most prestigious lecturer appointment.

Takaki has been on national television to discuss issues of race, U.S.-Japan relations, multiculturalism, affirmative action, etc. The programs include the NBC “Today Show,” ABC “This Week with David Brinkley,” CNN “International Hour,” “Cross Fire,” “Jim Lehrer Newshour.”

The Los Angeles Times has described Takaki as a “minority Everyman. He is a rare hybrid, a multicultural scholar.” He is the author of 11 books, including the critically acclaimed Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th Century America (Knopf, 1979). Now in its third edition (Oxford, 2000), this book is still widely read in college courses across the country. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans (Little, Brown, 1989) was selected by the New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year and by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Little, Brown, 1993) is the winner of numerous prizes, including the American Book Award. Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb (Little, Brown, 1995) offers the first study to examine the significance of race in Harry Truman’s fateful decision. Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II (Little, Brown, 2000) is the only study of the “Greatest Generation” from the perspectives of our nation’s diverse racial and ethnic minorities. This book challenges the memory of the war as a war fought only by white Americans.

In 1980, the University of Wisconsin invited Takaki and Nathan Glazer to debate the issue of affirmative action. Since then, the two of them have had debates at Michigan State University in 1994, Berkeley in 1995, the University of Puget Sound in 1996, and Ohio University in 2004. In We Are All Multiculturalists Now (1997), Glazer stated that he had changed his mind on affirmative action.

In 1997, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted a debate between Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Takaki at the opening plenary session of its conference on America’s diversity and America’s foreign policy.

Takaki has lectured in Japan, Russia, Armenia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Austria, and South Africa. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Wheelock College, the College of Wooster, Macalester College, Northeastern University, the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts College of Art, and Whitman College.

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