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John Rickford, A. D. White Professor-at-Large: "Speaking my Soul: Race, Life and Language-A Reading"

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 at 4:30pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, 132
232 East Ave, Central Campus

Speaking my Soul: Race, Life and Language-A Reading
Speaker: John Russell Rickford (Stanford University) and A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell
Location: Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium (132 Goldwin Smith Hall) and via  Zoom
Zoom webinar ID: 914 9677 2910. Passcode: 655902.

About the speaker

John Russell Rickford is a world-renowned linguist and award-winning author, whose autobiography, Speaking my Soul: Race, Life and Language, was released in December 2021. Speaking my Soul is the honest story of Rickford’s life from his early years as the youngest of ten children in Guyana to his status as Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at Stanford, of the transformation of his identity from colored or mixed race in Guyana to black in the USA, and of his work championing Black Talk and its speakers.

This is an inspiring story of the personal and professional growth of a black scholar, from his life as an immigrant to the USA to a world-renowned expert who has made a leading contribution to the study of African American life, history, language and culture. In this engaging memoir, Rickford recalls landmark events for his racial identity like being elected president of the Black Student Association at the University of California, Santa Cruz; learning from black expeditions to the South Carolina Sea Islands, Jamaica, Belize and Ghana; and meeting or interviewing civil rights icons like Huey P. Newton, Rosa Parks and South African Dennis Brutus. He worked with Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin’s good friend, and key witness in the trial of George Zimmerman for his murder—Zimmerman’s exoneration sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

With a foreword by poet John Agard, this is the account of a former Director of African and African American Studies whose work has increased our understanding of the richness of African American language and our awareness of the education and criminal justice challenges facing African Americans. It is key reading for students and faculty in linguistics, mixed race studies, African American studies and social justice.

ASL interpretation will be available for this talk.

This event is part of Rickford’s second visit as an A.D. White Professor-at-Large (ADW-PAL) to Cornell. His on-campus residency runs May 3-9, 2022. He was elected as an ADW-PAL in 2017. His appointment runs through 2023. 

Cosponsored by the Department of Linguistics.

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Event Type



Professor-at-Large Program, Linguistics

University Themes



casling, ADW-PAL

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Cindy K. Greco

Contact Phone



John Rickford

Speaker Affiliation

Cornell University; Stanford University

Dept. Web Site

Disability Access Information

Contact if you need access accommodations to participate in this event.

Open To

the public

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