Black America and Progressivism: Jason L. Riley vs. Nikhil Pal Singh

The Manhattan Institute senior fellow and the NYU historian debate whether black Americans should move away from progressivism.


On March 30, the Manhattan Institute's Jason L. Riley and New York University (NYU) professor Nikhil Pal Singh debated the resolution, "Upward mobility for black Americans lies in rejecting the policies of progressive government, while making the most of the opportunities offered by American society." The debate was held at New York City's Sheen Center and hosted by The Soho Forum, which receives fiscal sponsorship from Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason.

Taking the affirmative was Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, where he has written about politics, economics, education, immigration, and social inequality for more than 25 years. He's also a frequent public speaker and provides commentary for television and radio news outlets. Riley is the author of five books, including Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, False Black Power?, Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell, and The Black Boom.

Arguing for the negative was Singh, professor of social and cultural analysis and history at NYU and the founding faculty director of the university's Prison Education Program. He is author, most recently, of Race and America's Long War, and of the forthcoming Reconstructing Democracy: Black Intellectuals in the American Century. His essays have appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, The New Statesman, n+1, and Boston Review. His November 2018 Soho Forum debate on "anti-racism," opposite John McWhorter, has received more than a quarter-million YouTube views.