An award-winning journalist is to deliver the first Reverend Jesse Jackson Lecture for Edge Hill University.

Gary Younge, a prominent voice on equality and human rights, will be the principal guest at the event on Tuesday 12 January, where he will speak on the theme ‘Obama’s America; Dickensian Times – the best of times and the worst of times’, in which he will contrast the symbolic victory of America’s first black president with the substantial challenges in leading a country in economic and geopolitical decline. The lecture is the first of a host of special events which will mark the University’s 125th anniversary in 2010.

The annual lecture was announced following a visit by Reverend Jackson to the Ormskirk-based University a year ago. During his visit, the civil rights campaigner was presented with an Honorary Fellowship by the University and a scholarship has also been set up in his name. The aim of the lecture and scholarship is to maintain the University’s commitment to a debate on human rights and economic equality, in honour of Reverend Jackson’s visit and his continuing work in this field. January’s event is sponsored by National Museums Liverpool and the city’s International Slavery Museum, which is also the venue for the lecture.

Gary Younge is a New York-based columnist who was awarded the prestigious James Cameron Award in October for his ‘combined moral vision and professional integrity’ in his reporting of the 2008 US presidential election. He also writes for the Nation magazine in the US and last year was appointed the Belle Zeller Visiting Professor of Social Policy and Public Administration at Brooklyn College at the City University of New York. He has written extensively from the US, Africa and Europe, presented several television and radio documentaries and also written for The Observer, Gay Times, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Los Angeles Times, the Evening Standard, Hello! and GQ Style.

His most recent book is Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States and he is also the author of No Place Like Home: A Black Briton’s journey through the Deep South. His new book, Who Are We, And Why Does It Matter in the 21st Century, about the politics of identity, will be published by Penguin in June 2010. Born and raised in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, he studied French and Russian at Heriot-Watt University and taught English to refugees in Sudan.

The University’s Centre for Local Policy Studies (CLPS) was instrumental in bringing Reverend Jackson to Edge Hill, and the ensuing annual lecture and scholarship. It has carried out significant research work around ethnic equality in the labour market and shares strong links with the campaigning group Equanomics UK and with Reverend Jackson.

CLPS Director, Stuart Speeden, said: “We were delighted to welcome Reverend Jackson to Edge Hill – his lecture was a memorable and emotional occasion. We are equally pleased that the legacy of that day is the lecture series and scholarship we can present in his name.

 “Reverend Jackson’s strong message is that there is hope, but that there is still work to be done if we are to achieve true racial equality. We hope that these annual lectures will help continue to spread this message. It is fitting that Gary Younge is giving the first Reverend Jesse Jackson Lecture – he is an accomplished speaker on the subject of civil rights, as well as a prolific author, and is very well placed to speak about the effects of President Obama’s first year in office.”

The lecture takes place at the International Slavery Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool on Tuesday 12 January from 6pm. Places are limited. Book your place by emailing corporateevents@edgehill.ac.uk.