The United States is still a beacon to the rest of the world and allows people to reinvent themselves, David Halberstam said Tuesday at Willey Hall.
More than 300 people gathered for Halberstam’s speech, “America Then and Now,” which marked the inaugural lecture of the Law School’s Horatio Ellsworth Keller Distinguished Visitor’s Program. Halberstam earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his coverage of the Vietnam War for The New York Times.
The lecture discussed the state of America with the coming of the millennium and its changing roles in areas like education and politics.
After World War II, the country was the richest it had ever been, Halberstam said. “Never was that wealth so equitably distributed among ordinary people,” he said.
Today, the United States is no longer a hegemonic country, Halberstam said.
“We are the home team,” he said, explaining that America is now a world center for technology, banking and education.
Halberstam also called the United States an educational superpower. Although he said America’s lower education is unacceptable, higher education is a beacon to the rest of the world.
“Unless you are taught to think, which we (Americans) have been taught to do, you are not really educated,” Halberstam said.
Today the work force is driven less by muscularity and more by intelligence, Halberstam said, adding that in years past, a high school drop-out could make more money working on an assembly line than a graduate could make.
“David Halberstam is one of the most important and serious writers of today,” said Thomas Sullivan, dean of the Law School.
The goal of the Horatio Ellsworth Keller lectures is to enrich law curriculum with insight into the liberal arts, said Curtis Keller, who established the program in memory of his father.
Halberstam recently finished his latest book, “The Children,” about the children of the civil rights movement, and is currently working on a book about Michael Jordan.