2015’s Timely Topics and Voices of ALOUD

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Patti Smith performs at The Orpheum Theatre. Credit: Gary Leonard

Throughout 2015, ALOUD welcomed some of today’s most distinguished voices to engage with Angelenos on timely topics from politics, books, art, music, science, history, and beyond. With 45 riveting programs, we hope you were able to join us for a spectacular year of storytelling, performance, discourse, and fun. Here’s a look at a few of the highlights, and in case you missed any of these events, click on the links for podcasts, videos, and photos.

Illuminating Politics

Author Jeff Chang (Who We Be: The Colorization of America) and filmmaker Justin Simien (Dear White People) discussed how artists and young people are shaping the discussion about race in the waning days of the Obama era.


In a conversation about the first-ever diary published by a still-imprisoned Guantánamo Bay detainee, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, ALOUD brought together legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, Slahi’s editor Larry Siems, and Slahi’s lawyer Nancy Hollander to explore the book and highly controversial case.

David Axelrod, the great strategist who masterminded Obama’s historic election campaigns, opened up about his years as a young journalist, political consultant, and ultimately Senior Advisor to the President, during his talk at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke about the yawning gap between the rich and poor in America.

Eric Foner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, revealed extraordinary new findings about the Underground Railroad.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discussed the ever-evolving influences of globalism on America’s highest court in his conversation with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.



Two influential champions for equality united in conversation on the ALOUD stage: litigator Roberta Kaplan, who recently won the defining United States v. Windsor case to defeat the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and award-winning LGBT activist, author, and scholar Lillian Faderman.


Local Flavors

Comedian, actor, and social media genius Patton Oswalt illuminated the story of his early days in the Los Angeles comedy scene and his unshakeable addiction to the New Beverly Cinema when he joined his brother in conversation at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.

Award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Jill Leovy shared the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential American murder – one young black man slaying another – contained in her masterful work, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.

As part of the Library Foundation’s special project To Live and Dine in L.A. exploring the city’s rich food history through the Los Angeles Public Library’s menu collection, ALOUD presented two exciting panel discussions: Josh Kun, professor and author of To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City, sat down with local chefs Cynthia Hawkins (Hawkins House of Burgers) and Ricardo Diaz (Colonia Publica) for a look at L.A. food past and present. And later Kun brought together urban gardener Ron Finley, the Healthy School Food Coalition’s Elizabeth Medrano, and Community Services Unlimited’s Neelam Sharma to discuss the struggles and triumphs of contemporary food activism.

Journalist Lynell George and writer Marisela Norte debuted a new collaboration, “Love, Los Angeles: A Conversation in Words and Images,” an on-going project to navigate the quickly-changing landscape of contemporary Los Angeles through photographs and text.


The Brightest Literati

At the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, beloved storyteller Judy Blume greeted super fans while talking about her ever-popular classic books along with her newest novel for adults, In the Unlikely Event.

Revered author and 2012 Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award winner Salman Rushdie discussed his newest work of fiction, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.

Critically acclaimed and bestselling memoirist Mary Karr spoke about mastering the art of her deeply personal genre.


New York Times-bestselling author Lauren Groff discussed one of this year’s most buzzed about novels, Fates and Furies.


Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates reflected on what it means to be black in America on the occasion of his revelatory National Book Award-winning memoir, Between the World and Me.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and acclaimed historian Stacy Schiff unpacked the fantastical story of the Salem Witch Trials.

Award-winning novelist, poet, and author Sandra Cisneros reflected on three decades of true stories, essays, talks, and poems from her storied life and career.

Music, Verses, and Movement

The multi-talented dancer, choreographer, and director Bill T. Jones performed and discussed a new book based on his brilliant work as an African American artist in the white-dominated dance world.


In partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, GRAMMY-nominated Chilean hip hop artist Ana Tijoux shared her politically powered verses.


Last but not least, iconic poet, artist, musician, and National Book Award-winning author Patti Smith dazzled ALOUD’s largest audience to date at downtown’s beautiful Orpheum Theatre.

Thank you for spending the year with us! We look forward to seeing you in 2016. Learn more about our 2016 program calendar here.


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