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In 1892 a young Black man named Robert Lewis was accused of sexual assault and brutally lynched by a white mob. The incident took place where such things were ‘not supposed to’ –  in Port Jervis, New York, 75 miles from New York City. At the time national newspapers condemned this violence as “Southern methods outdone.” 130 years later author Philip Dray examines the murder, the community that enabled it, and the white supremacists who got off scott free in his book A Lynching at Port Jervis. Join us for a conversation that connects this brutal history to racialized violence today. Vincent Southerland, Co-Director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU leads Dray in conversation, resetting our assumptions about virulent racism close to home, both in 1892 and today.


Philip Dray is the author of several books of American cultural and political history, including At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America, and Capitol Men: The Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen. He is an adjunct professor in the Journalism + Design Department at Eugene Lang College. He lives in Brooklyn. 

Vincent M. Southerland is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Faculty Director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law. His expertise centers on racial justice, civil rights, and the criminal legal system. Prior to his appointment to the NYU Law faculty, Vincent was the inaugural Executive Director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law. Before joining NYU Law in that role, he was an Assistant Federal Public Defender with the Federal Defenders for the Southern District of New York. His time at the Federal Defenders was preceded by seven years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), where he was Senior Counsel. While at LDF he engaged in a wide range of criminal justice litigation and advocacy, led LDF’s advocacy efforts around race and policing, and was lead counsel in several school desegregation cases.

Center for Brooklyn History's Fall series, Talks in the Othmer, is presented in partnership with New York University's Brooklyn-based 370 Jay Project. Programs take place in CBH's beautiful Othmer Reading Room.

To view all of our fall "Talks in the Othmer" click here.

For all indoor Center for Brooklyn History and BPL Presents programs, guests must provide proof of vaccination and are encouraged to wear masks while onsite at all times. In-person capacity is limited and  seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.


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