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Moses Hadas and Historical Black Colleges and Universities - Classics, Racism, Segregation

Public Humanities, Justice Forum

dateJanuary 25, 2023 timeWednesday, 6:10pm–8:00pm EST location Casa Hispanica, Room 201, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • The Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
  • Department of Classics
  • African American and African Diaspora Studies
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Center for American Studies
  • Tamer Center for Social Enterprise
  • The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative
  • The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies
  • Society of Fellows and the Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Justice-in-Education Initiative
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
  • This event will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

B&W photo of several dark-skinned people standing in front of sign reading "Black University"

Moses Hadas and Historical Black Colleges and Universities - Classics, Racism, Segregation, featuring Rachel Hadas, Roosevelt Montás, and Dan-el Padilla Peralta

In the summer of 1963, Moses Hadas (1900-1966), Jay Professor of Greek at Columbia, used what was then a new AT &T technology to deliver a series of telelectures. Passionate about transmitting the classical legacy to the broadest possible audience, Hadas delivered 18 lectures to students at historical black colleges and universities in Mississippi and Louisiana. The initiative, sponsored by the Fund for the Advancement of Education (funded by the Ford Foundation), allowed the famed classicist to deliver lectures on the "Great Ideas of Antiquity" via telephone to students whose lives in segregationist states were distant in many ways from those of his Columbia students.

Materials pertaining to these historic lectures will be presented by Rachel Hadas -- poet, translator, educator, essayist, and the youngest daughter of Moses Hadas. Using these materials as a starting point, Hadas, Roosevelt Montás, and Dan-el Padilla Peralta (SOF 2014-16) will discuss the context of these lectures and the cultural shifts that have had an impact on pedagogy and technology, the classical tradition, and equity in education-- all issues which, sixty years later, remain not only relevant but urgent.


Rachel Hadas is the recipient of many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is the Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark, where she has taught for many years. Her recent books of poetry include "Pandemic Almanac" (2022) and "Love and Dread" (2021); "Piece by Piece," selected prose, was also published in 2021. A translator as well as a poet and essayist, she is among contributors to the forthcoming "Tales of Dionysus," a translation by over forty scholars of the "Dionysiaca" of Nonnus. She has also translated the Iphigenia plays and the Helen of Euripides.

Roosevelt Montás is a Senior Lecturer in American Studies at Columbia University and director of its Freedom and Citizenship Program, which introduces low-income high school students to the Western political tradition through the study of foundational texts. From 2008 to 2018, he served as director of Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum. He is the author of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation, (Princeton University Press, 2021).

Dan-El Padilla is an Associate Professor of Classics at Princeton University. Graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in Classics with a WWS certificate (2006; Latin Salutatory), held the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship to read for the M.Phil. in Greek and Roman History at Oxford (2008); received a Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford (2014), generously supported by the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship, and after a two-year postdoctoral stint at Columbia’s Society of Fellows, returned to Princeton where in addition to Classics, he is affiliated with the Program in Latino Studies.

This event is part of our Justice Forum series, which provides opportunities for community discussion of arts and ideas on justice, equality, and mass incarceration.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.