David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, delivers Annenberg Distinguished Lecture

Penn President Amy Gutmann with David Remnick and Michael Delli Carpini

Penn President Amy Gutmann with Annenberg Dean Michael Delli Carpini (left) and The New Yorker Editor David Remnick (center).

Comparing David Remnick’s literary versatility to the timeless hitting and lesser-known pitching talents of Babe Ruth, Penn President Amy Gutmann welcomed the editor of The New Yorker magazine and Pulitzer Prize-winning author to Penn on Wednesday, April 21, by lauding his “production of an extraordinary body of work as an editor and as a writer.”

A former reporter for The Washington Post, an author of six books and editor of The New Yorker since 1998, Remnick delivered the 18th Annual Walter and Leonore Annenberg Distinguished Lecture in Communication, speaking about his recently-published biography of President Barack Obama titled, “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.”

Remnick said as a nation we have drifted “right past an incredibly radical part of our history, the election of the first African-American president.” The book, Remnick said, takes a closer look at Obama’s “serious talents” as a gifted public speaker and a political strategist, as well as the historic timing and the element of luck that led to his election to the White House.

Referring to a speech that Obama gave in Selma, Ala., early in his campaign, Remnick explained that Obama bridged the struggles and accomplishments of earlier civil rights leaders to his candidacy. In the speech, delivered in commemoration of the famous 1965 march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, Obama thanked the elder generation of civil rights activists, calling them the “Moses generation” of freedom fighters. It was during that speech, Remnick said, that Obama established himself as the leader of “the Joshua generation,” committed to getting his people to the “promised land.”

Remnick’s son Alex is currently a College sophomore at Penn, following in his father’s journalistic footsteps by working as the associate editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The Annenberg Distinguished Lecture in Communication was established in 1992 to honor Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg, bringing alumni, faculty and graduate students together to hear from a leader in the academy or in the professional communications world.

Originally published on April 22, 2010