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February Thursday

Virtual Program | Re-awakening the American Dream: Immigrants, Immigration and Our Future


As the Biden administration sets a new course for immigration, the Center for Brooklyn History and the New York Immigration Coalition present a conversation about the ideas underpinning our attitudes towards immigration, the policies and rhetoric of the last three decades, and the possibilities for a new future. Join panelists Masha Gessen, author, activist, and winner of the 2017 National Book Award for Nonfiction; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar; immigration scholar and expert Mae M. Ngai who is Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History at Columbia University; and Anu Joshi, Vice President of Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition for this conversation led by journalist, translator, and activist John Washington, author of the book Dispossessed and a regular contributor to The Nation and The Intercept.

Presented in partnership with the New York Immigration Coalition.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

6:30 pm

Virtual Program via Zoom Webinar


  • Free
Register Here


  • New York, NY - August 7th, 2017: Ayad Akhtar posing for a portrait in New York.

    Ayad Akhtar

    Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

    Ayad is the author of Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force” and The New York Times selected as a Top 10 Book of 2020, calling it “pitch-perfect…virtuosic.” His first novel, American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), was published in over 20 languages. As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations).

    Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwrighting Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. Additionally, Ayad is a Board Trustee at New York Theatre Workshop and PEN America, where he serves as President.

  • Masha Gessen headshot copy

    Masha Gessen

    Masha Gessen is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of eleven books of nonfiction, most recently Surviving Autocracy. Gessen received the 2017 National Book Award for Nonfiction for The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Gessen is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.

  • Anu headshot copy

    Anu Joshi

    Anu Joshi is the Vice President of Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition. In her role Anu oversees the Coalition’s work on immigrant integration and immigrant rights policy, as well as the Immigrant Services Support team. Anu has over a decade of experience fighting for immigrant rights, previously working with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Center for New Community. Anu is originally from California and has her Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.

  • Mae Ngai headshot

    Mae Ngai

    Mae M. Ngai, Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History at Columbia University, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010). Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Boston Review. Before becoming a historian she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education. She is now writing The Chinese Question (under contract with WW Norton), a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in nineteenth-century California, Australia, and South Africa; and Nation of Immigrants: A Short History of an Idea (under contract with Princeton University Press).

  • Washington author photo

    John Washington

    John Washington is a journalist, translator, and activist. He is also an editor for the English language newsletter of the Salvadoran investigative newspaper, El Faro. His own first book, The Dispossessed, published last year, is the story of one man’s search for safety in the United States and a historical exploration of the ancient origins of asylum. A regular contributor to The Nation and The Intercept, his most recent article revealed how guards at ICE detention centers are threatening to expose detainees to Covid to get them to submit to their deportations. Follow him at @jbwashing and find more of his work at