Join us as we take a look back at this year’s highlights, from trending topics to award-winning books to blockbuster films.
Our Civil Rights Thought Leaders Engaged the Nation on the Topic of Racial Inequality
We were thrilled to welcome National Book Award winners Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power, Between the World and Me) and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (Stamped from the Beginning) to our roster. One of the most important voices of our time, Coates was hailed by The Boston Globe as “Essential . . . Coates’s probing essays about race, politics, and history became necessary ballast for this nation’s gravity-defying moment.” Kendi’s sharp, informative lectures opened audiences’ eyes to the reality of racism in America today.
The Equal Justice Initiative’s founder, Bryan Stevenson, continued to be a leading voice on civil rights. He was welcomed onto The Daily Show to talk about America’s history of racial inequality in the context of this year’s removal of Confederate war memorials.
Masha Gessen Wins the National Book Award for The Future is History
Masha Gessen’s National Book Award-winning The Future is History follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy in Russia, and the unprecedented expectations and aspirations each person held. But, in the span of just one generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible strain of autocracy. Gessen’s chillingly timely book and lectures explore and expose the symptoms of totalitarianism.
Colson Whitehead Wins Pulitzer & Earns Spot on TIME 100
After winning the National Book Award in 2016 for The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead added the 2017 Pulitzer Prize to his list of accolades. This April, he was named as one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.” In his entry on the list, Oprah writes, “the brilliance of [Whitehead’s] vision is that he reminds us that, like his heroine Cora, we can never give up hope, can never stop trying.”
TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year: The #MeToo Silence Breakers
TIME Magazine named the #MeToo movement as “person” of the year, giving recognition to the “silence breakers” who have called out abuses of power over the past few months. In the magazine, Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, tackled her rage and frustration over the sexual misconduct that has spurred recent allegations, and shares her hopes for future generations.
Net Neutrality in the National Spotlight
With this December’s controversial vote, net neutrality—what it means, and why it matters—has been all over the news. Speaker Tim Wu, widely known as the “father of net neutrality” and the term’s originator, understands better than anyone the politics, business, and philosophy involved in this crucial debate.
Healthcare and Wellbeing
How US Health Care Became Big Business—Elisabeth Rosenthal on “Fresh Air”
With the future of US healthcare still undecided, Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal unpacks one of our most complex and frustrating institutions in lectures that include suggestions for how doctors, patients, and providers can repair it.
Wanting to give back to his fellow veterans, Travis Mills created the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat. In The New York Times, fellow speaker Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote about how the center has “given new hope to wounded soldiers and their families.”
On Bookshelves Everywhere
This year, Oprah picked Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, for her Book Club, writing: “It’s got everything that’s grabbing the headlines in America right now. It’s about race and class, the economy, culture, immigration and the danger of the us-versus-them mentality.”
Lidia Yuknavitch, author of the bestselling Book of Joan, joined the Bureau and continues to give inspirational keynotes drawn from her own wayward journey to self-acceptance. Her 2016 TED Talk on “The Beauty of Being a Misfit” has been viewed over 2.2 million times.
Now Playing: Speakers with Blockbuster Movies
The heartwarming movie adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s bestselling Wonder, which stars Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, and Jacob Tremblay hit theaters. The New York Times called the film “that rare thing, a family picture that moves and amuses while never overtly pandering.”