The Reginald ‘52 and Martin ‘57 Zelnik Lecture is held annually for Riverdale’s eleventh grade as part of the Constructing America curriculum. This lecture was established in 2004 by the Zelnik family in memory of their late brother and Riverdale alumnus, Reginald E. Zelnik, who had a distinguished career as a Russian studies professor and civil liberties advocate at the University of California at Berkeley.
In 2022, the lecture was renamed to include recognition of the late Martin A. Zelnik, who was a respected architect as well as a dedicated and engaged Riverdale alumnus. Marty had been central to creating this lecture in his late brother’s honor.
Free speech and expression are critical components of this lecture each year. This year’s speaker was Ron Murison, who completes 33 years of teaching at Riverdale in June. The title of his lecture is “Reading America: History as a Narrative Art.” Mr. Murison discusses his experience as an immigrant coming to terms with a new country, the nature of history as a product of narrative and interpretation, and the threats that confront our civil and political life in what seems to be an increasingly post-truth culture.