UConn's loss is Columbia University's gain: Goodbye Jelani Cobb

William Jelani Cobb, an associate professor of history and director of the Africana Studies Institute, has accepted a position at with the School of Journalism at Columbia University. (Courtesy/Africana Studies Institute)

Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africana Studies Institute William Jelani Cobb is joining the Columbia School of Journalism as a full-time faculty member, according to a tweet by the Columbia Journalism account.

Cobb retweeted the tweet with the caption “Change of Address Notification:”

Cobb is also a staff writer for The New Yorker and writes about race, politics, history and culture, according to The New Yorker’s website. In 2015, he won the Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Cobb is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress and To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic. His upcoming book is titled "Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931-1957," according to UConn’s Department of History website.

His articles and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, Essence, Vibe, The Progressive, and TheRoot.com, according to UConn’s Department of History website. He has also been a featured commentator on MSNBC, National Public Radio, CNN, Al-Jazeera, CBS News and a number of other national broadcast outlets.

Cobb was the embodiment of an intellectual activist said Haddiyyah Ali, fourth-semester political science and Africana studies major and Daily Campus contributor.

“He brings activism and academia to a point where he is able to have a career out of it,” Ali said. She was always able to go to Cobb with questions and said he was “so powerful and inspiring.”

His most notable achievement was being the director of the Africana Studies Department, Ali said. He created a “lasting legacy as far as the stability of the department.”

Ali took a course specifically dedicated to the events in Ferguson, Missouri with Cobb. She said that Cobb had amazing connections and the class was able to Skype with journalists from The New Yorker as well as people on the ground in Ferguson.

“[He was able to] reach students who might not always be engaged with these issues,” Ali said. “[He] challenges you to use facts and evidence even when you’re just talking in class.”


Jacqueline Devine is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at jacqueline.devine@uconn.edu.