Noise and Notes: Robin D. G. Kelley on the ‘War on Youth’ & Art of Thelonious Monk

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UCLA Professor Robin D. G. Kelley is a historian and social justice advocate, and a bit of a jazz scholar.

The award-winning author was in Louisville this week for the annual Anne Braden Memorial Lecture Series to discuss what he believes is a war on youth through punitive economic and education policies.

Kelley is also an outspoken critic of those who worship the free-market in American politics, and he says neo-liberal ideology—which rose to prominence in the 1990s—poses a threat to all progressive movements.

Besides social justice advocacy, he is well-known as a biographer of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, and wrote what many consider the definitive book on the legendary artists’ music and life. For many jazz enthusiasts, Monk was seen as a primitive and raw talent but Kelley says the man is much more complicated.

Kelley stopped by to talk about youth politics, President Obama’s re-election, and the problem with modern capitalism. He also gives us a hint about what actor—Wendell Pierce, Idris Elba, etc.—he would like to see portray Monk in a potential motion picture.

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