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Listed below are keynote events that are planned and hosted by the Common Reading Program itself. Our Coug Presence page lists both these events and additional events hosted by our partners.

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Jay Smooth- New York based hip-hop scholar and cultural commentator

April 1, 2016


Exact date, place, time TBD

Best known for his award-winning Ill Doctrine web video series, Jay Smooth combines a love for hip-hop with a passion for social justice and cultural commentary. Smooth is the founder of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, the Underground Railroad, as well as one of the first hip-hop websites at, where he pioneered the form now known as hip-hop blogging. The site became best known for spearheading a massive public protest against New York’s Hot 97, which forced the radio station to fire several staffers and donate $1,000,000 to disaster relief after they repeatedly aired racist content mocking victims of 2004’s tsunami. Most recently Smooth has won widespread acclaim for his commentaries on politics and culture at The site’s unique mix of humor and incisive analysis has garnered millions of views and been frequently featured by NPR, Current TV, and MSNBC. Ill Doctrine videos including “How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist” have become part of the curriculum in many schools and universities, and Smooth’s recent TEDx talk at Hampshire College has already become one of the most widely viewed talks on the TEDx website —



April 1, 2016