March 30: Bruce Kuklick on “Murdering Patrice Lumumba”

When Belgium relinquished control of the Belgian Congo in June 1960, a charismatic Patrice Lumumba became prime minister of the new Republic. Stability immediately broke down. The army mutinied, while Katanga Province seceded. Six months later Lumumba was murdered in Katanga; his undisputed rule as Congo’s first democratically elected leader had lasted ten weeks. Over fifty years later, the circumstances and symbolism of Lumumba’s assassination still troubled people around the world. Bruce Kuklick examines this defining event in postcolonial Africa. He reveals a tangled international political history in which many people—black and white, well-meaning and ruthless, African, European, and American—bear responsibility for the untimely death of a national dream.

Bruce Kuklick is Nichols Professor of American History Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, and a member of the American Philosophical Society.  He is the author of a dozen books on the diplomatic, political, intellectual, and cultural history of the United States. He and Emmanuel Gerard, of KUL-Leuven in Belgium, have co-authored Death in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba, which has just been published by Harvard University Press.

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. Seewww.nationalhistorycenter.org for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.  Reservations requested because of limited seating.

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