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Roosevelt House is honored to present the 2021 McNickle Lecture on Integrity in Government, featuring former State Attorney General Robert Abrams on his inspiring new memoir, The Luckiest Guy in the World: My Journey in Politics. He will be in conversation with author, historian, and businessman Chris McNickle.
Uplifting and insightful, The Luckiest Guy in the World takes readers inside the remarkable story of how, under Abrams, the office of state attorney general became a major force in protecting the rights of New Yorkers and citizens across the country. As a leader for attorneys general throughout the nation, Robert Abrams organized collective action against the anti-regulatory policies of the Reagan administration. In doing so, Abrams helped create the modern role of state attorney general and set the precedent for today’s frequent challenges to federal authority—including those against Trump administration immigration policies and the rollback of consumer and civil rights protections.
Among the many accomplishments explored are: the landmark lawsuit against an oil company, which helped pave the way for the environmental movement; triumphs on behalf of a woman’s right to choose; and legal victories for LGBTQ rights that ultimately led to marriage equality. Also included are vivid accounts of Abrams’ childhood in the Bronx, where he would eventually become Borough President, and riveting tales from his formative grassroots campaigns against the Democratic Party machine. Along the way, readers are brought behind the scenes with significant figures such as George McGovern, Mario Cuomo, Ed Koch, Robert Moses, Cesar Chavez, and Shirley Chisholm.
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “Bob Abrams has as many good stories from his life of public service as he does accomplishments, which is no small thing. From taking on the party machine to fighting for civil rights, Bob always led with the values that we need more of in government: integrity, decency, and courage. He may be lucky, but we the people are luckier still.”
Robert Abrams served four terms as New York State Attorney General, from 1979 to 1993. As president of the National Association of Attorneys General, he was selected by his colleagues to receive the Wyman Award in recognition of his outstanding service. His distinguished career in public life also includes three terms in the New York State Assembly, three as Bronx Borough President, and in 1992 he was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in New York. In recognition of his contributions to the people of New York State, the Justice Building in Albany was renamed The Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice. He currently works as Senior Counsel at the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.
Chris McNickle is the author of To Be Mayor of New York: Ethnic Politics in the City; The Power of the Mayor: David Dinkins 1990-1993; Bloomberg: A Billionaire’s Ambition; and Passages: A Personal Journey. His articles and opinions on finance, politics, and history have been published in scholarly journals as well as the New York Daily News, Crain’s New York Business, and the Financial Times. A former Treasurer of the American Historical Association (AHA), he was a member of its finance committee and chairman of its Investment Subcommittee, responsible for managing the AHA endowment. McNickle has over 20 years’ experience in the asset management industry, serving as a senior vice president at Prudential Retirement Services, the global head of institutional business for Fidelity International, managing director and head of the global investment management practice of Greenwich Associates, and leader of the business strategy department at JP Morgan Investment Management.
The McNickle Lecture is made possible through the generosity of Chris McNickle.