Revisiting the Willie Lynch Myth
On March 27, 2012, an unseasonably warm evening, people streamed into the Lee Auditorium of the Missouri History Museum to hear a lecture on the Willie Lynch Myth. Dr. Jelani Cobb spoke before an audience of more than 300. Shortly before the event, Dr. Cobb mentioned that he had previous experiences in which members of the audience argued with him and criticized his points, which were twofold: 1) that there is no evidence Willie Lynch ever existed, and 2) that African Americans have made significant progress toward social equality in the United States since the late 18th century. Though critics of Cobb’s talk accounted for fewer than half of those attending, they were a vocal minority, dominating much of the question-and-answer period that followed the lecture.
We asked audience members to give some feedback on the event by completing an evaluation form. The response was generally positive, including comments such as “thought provoking” and “excellent.” Many indicated that they would leave thinking about problems affecting the African American community and source documentation of what is supposedly black history. Additionally, we gained permission from Dr. Cobb to make the audio of his talk available on the History Happens Here website. By clicking here, you can hear Dr. Cobb’s controversial lecture and have the opportunity to decide if he was successful in making his case.
—MK Stallings, Assistant Director, Community Education and Events