The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard presents
Power: Accountability and Abuse


Opening Night

An Evening with Wynton Marsalis

7:30 p.m.

Wynton Marsalis reflects on the theme “Power: Accountability and Abuse” during an evening of music and discussion

Welcome by the Nieman Foundation curator, Ann Marie Lipinski

Introduction by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust


Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, and educator. He made history in 1997 when his oratorio “Blood on the Fields” became the first jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He has made more than 80 jazz and classical recordings, which have won him nine Grammy awards and sold over 7 million copies worldwide. He serves as the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and director of Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School in New York City. @wyntonmarsalis

Wynton Marsalis, trumpet
Walter Blanding, saxophone
James Chirillo, guitar
Ricky Gordon, percussion
Carlos Henriquez, bass
Ali Jackson, drums
Dan Nimmer, piano


Mary Jordan emcees a day of performances, readings, talks, and conversations with Pulitzer winners whose work speaks to the theme, “Power: Accountability and Abuse.”

Act I


10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

  • Readings
    Julia Keller, Fredrik Logevall, and Eugene Robinson* share classic passages from some of the most memorable Pulitzer-winning works of the past century (*Pulitzer-winning reporter Kevin Sullivan replaced Eugene Robinson in the opening readings)
  • Storytelling
    Annette Gordon-Reed became a lawyer to effect social change, but in researching and writing“The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family” she changed history
    Maria Henson on what her 1991 series of investigative editorials on domestic violence, “To Have and To Harm,” taught her about the power of crusading journalism
  • Conversation
    Danielle Allen talks with Sara Ganim and Sacha Pfeiffer about what it’s like to report on intimate crimes and to make those stories public in ways that are sensitive to victims and create social impact
  • Storytelling
    Wesley Lowery reflects on what covering racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo. taught him about his childhood growing up in a biracial home
  • Reading
    Junot Díaz reads from “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” exploring power relationships within a single family and within a nation under dictatorial rule


12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. BREAK*

In addition to the eateries in Harvard Square, there will be food trucks on the plaza adjacent to Harvard Yard

Act II


1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

  • Talk
    Robert Caro recalls the incident, when he was working on “The Power Broker,” that made him realize that in writing about power, he would have to do so through the lens of the powerless
  • Reading
    Donald Graham reads a passage from “Personal History,” the Pulitzer-winning autobiography by his mother, Katharine Graham, about her decision while publisher of The Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers
  • Conversation
    Dean Baquet talks with Laura Poitras and Bob Woodward about their work to expose two of the most stunning abuses of government power in American history
  • Interview
    A videotaped conversation with “Hamilton” writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda about finding your voice as a writer and the role of the playwright in addressing history


3:30 p.m.– 4:30 p.m. BREAK*




4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

  • Storytelling
    Stan Grossfeld reflects on how pictures he took in the mid-1980s in rebel-held Ethiopia and war-torn Lebanon did—and didn’t—make a difference
    Mark Fiore reflects on his unorthodox path to a career as a political cartoonist — and the power of satirical animation to spark social change
  • Conversation
    Caroline Elkins talks with Joby Warrick and Lawrence Wright about state-sponsored oppression and the rise of stateless terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda
  • Reading
    Yusef Komunyakaa reads “Thanks,” a meditation on how the natural world can ameliorate the pain of human conflict
  • Performance
    Lynn Nottage introduces a scene from “Ruined,” about women and girls trying to survive civil war in the Congo. Performed by Erin Washington and Me’Lisa Sellers.


6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. DINNER BREAK*


Evening Concert: “On the Transmigration of Souls” by John Adams

8:30 – 9:30 p.m.

A performance of John Adams’ “On the Transmigration of Souls,” winner of the 2003 Pulitzer for Music, to mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Adams has described the composition as a “memory space.” It incorporates phrases from New York Times stories and missing-persons signs that families of victims posted near Ground Zero. Conducted by Federico Cortese of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra with Tanglewood Festival Chorus, guest chorus conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, and Voices Boston, artistic director Steven Lipsitt


John Adams is a composer and conductor whose works are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music. His stage works include the operas “Nixon in China” and “The Death of Klinghoffer.” Conducting engagements in recent and coming seasons include the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He is author of the autobiography “Hallelujah Junction” and creative chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. @HellTweet

*Please note: Due to the technical requirements of this event, the house must be cleared after each session. Patrons may not leave belongings in the theater. A new ticket is needed for re-entry.