Why Thomas Sowell Matters
An America’s Founding and Future Lecture
Jason L. Riley, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and columnist for the Wall Street Journal
Join us for a discussion with Jason Riley on Thomas Sowell and why his writings—on everything from school choice and affirmative action to economic inequality and social justice—continue to be relevant to our policy discussions today.
Thomas Sowell is one of the great social theorists of our age. In a career spanning more than a half century, he has written over thirty books, covering topics from economic history and social inequality to political theory, race, and culture. His bold and unsentimental assaults on liberal orthodoxy have endeared him to many readers but have also enraged fellow intellectuals, the civil-rights establishment, and much of the mainstream media. The result has been a lack of acknowledgment of his scholarship among critics who prioritize political correctness. In the first-ever biography of Sowell, Jason L. Riley gives this iconic thinker his due and responds to the detractors. Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell showcases Sowell's most significant writings and traces the life events that shaped his ideas and resulted in a Black orphan from the Jim Crow South becoming one of our foremost public intellectuals.
Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, where he has written about politics, economics, education, immigration and social inequality for more than 25 years. He’s also a frequent public speaker and provides commentary for television and radio news outlets.
After joining the Journal in 1994, he was named a senior editorial page writer in 2000 and a member of the Editorial Board in 2005. He joined the Manhattan Institute, a public policy think tank focused on urban issues, in 2015.
Riley is the author of five books. In 2008 he published Let Them In, which argues for a more free-market oriented U.S. immigration system. His second book, Please Stop Helping Us, which is about government efforts to help the black underclass, was published in 2014. In 2017 he published False Black Power?, an assessment of why black political success has not translated into more economic advancement. In 2021 he published Maverick, a biography of the iconic economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell, and narrated the documentary film, Thomas Sowell: Common Sense in a Senseless World. Riley’s most recent book, published in 2022, is The Black Boom, an analysis of black economic progress prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Riley earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has also worked for USA Today and the Buffalo News. He lives in suburban New York City.