Danielle Allen – “Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality”


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With: Georges C. Benjamin Executive Director, American Public Health Association; Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health 2010-2011Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP(E), FNAPA, Hon FRSPH, is the executive director of the American Public Health Association, the nation's oldest and largest organization of public health professionals. He previously was the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, from 1999 - 2002 following four years as its deputy secretary for public health services. For the last 20 years he has been actively practicing public health at the local, state, and national level with expertise in the areas of emergency preparedness, administration and infectious diseases. Dr. Benjamin serves as publisher of the field's premier journal, the American Journal of Public Health, The Nation's Health Newspaper and the APHA's timeless publication on infectious diseases, the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual.Theodore Brown Professor, Department of Health Sciences University of Rochester Medical CenterTheodore Brown is a historian of medicine, public health, and health policy. He has conducted research on the history of the biopsychosocial approach and on translational medicine; the history of twentieth and early twenty-first century U.S. health policy; the influence of organized philanthropy on medical research, health policy, and medical education, and the history of American and global public health. He is a Contributing Editor for History of the American Journal of Public Health.Clay Bennett Editorial Cartoonist, Chattanooga Times Free PressClay Bennett is an American editorial cartoonist. Currently drawing for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Bennett is the winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning.

Danielle Allen – “Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality”

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Join us at Roosevelt House for a special evening exploring the argument — and contemporary meaning — of The Declaration of Independence, the foundational statement of America’s commitment to equality. Danielle Allen, author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, discusses her acclaimed book in conversation with Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, and professor of law at New York Law School.

Troubled by the fact that so few Americans actually know what the Declaration says, Allen, a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study and a political philosopher widely known for her work on justice and citizenship, set out to explore the arguments of the Declaration, reading it with both adult night students and University of Chicago undergraduates. Keenly aware that the Declaration is riddled with contradictions – liberating some while subjugating slaves and Native Americans – Allen and her students nonetheless came to see that the Declaration makes a coherent and riveting argument about equality. They found a historical text that is an animating force that could and did transform the course of their everyday lives.

Junot Díaz praised Danielle Allen for laying “bare the Declaration’s history and significance, returning it to its true and rightful owners-you and me,” and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy called the book an “uncommonly elegant, incisive, and often poetic primer on America’s cardinal text” that illuminates the “three great themes of the Declaration: equality, liberty, and the abiding power of language.”