An NBA Hall-of-Famer, an influential food critic, a well-regarded legal analyst and an adventurer who severed his arm to save his life comprise the 48th season of the Yakima Town Hall speaker series.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former professional basketball player, political activist, journalist, novelist and screenwriter, will kick off the series Sept. 16, 2020. Following speakers include Ruth Reichl, food critic, “Top Chef Masters” judge, author and recipient of six James Beard Awards; and Aron Ralston, outdoor adventurer and climber, according to a news release.

Ralston became trapped between two boulders in a remote location for more than five days, ultimately freeing himself by severing his own arm. He is the subject of the film “127 Hours.”

Rounding out the season is Jeffrey Toobin, an author, attorney, Supreme Court expert, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and senior legal analyst for CNN.

“Our 48th season is yet another epic year, and we look forward to entertaining our dedicated donors and subscribers,” Jan Mendenhall, president of Yakima Town Hall, said in the release. “It’s a delight to carry on the tradition of our founders, bringing thought-provoking and world-renowned speakers to Yakima — speakers whom many larger communities can’t attract.

“When we say ‘Give us an hour

and we’ll bring you the world,’ we mean it.”

All of the speeches begin at 11 a.m. at the Capitol Theatre, 19 S. Third St.

Current ticket holders and sponsors get a chance to renew first, and organizers will know early next spring how many tickets will be available.

The costs per ticket vary based on

seat. The range is $85-$250 for all four speakers.

• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar —Sept. 16, 2020

The 2020-21 season will begin with Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time NBA Champion and six-time MVP who was inducted into The Hall of Fame in 1995. A New York Times best-selling author, TV writer and award-winning columnist, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — from President Barack Obama.

• Ruth Reichl — Nov. 11, 2020

“One of the nation’s most influential figures in the food world,” according to The Seattle Times, Reichl is the recipient of six James Beard Awards. She was editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine for 10 years until its closing. Before her tenure at Gourmet, Reichl was the restaurant critic at The New York Times from 1993-1999 and both the restaurant critic and food editor at the Los Angeles Times from 1984-1993.

• Aron Ralston — March 17, 2021

An experienced climber and outdoorsman, Aron Ralston was alone in Utah when he became trapped between two boulders in a remote location for more than five days, ultimately freeing himself by severing his own arm with a pocketknife. His harrowing tale captivated global news outlets and remains one of the most extreme survival stories of all time.

• Jeffrey Toobin — April 14, 2021.

Toobin serves as Senior Legal Analyst at CNN and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. He has written on such subjects as the Bernie Madoff scandal and the Roman Polanski case. He’s also published profiles of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

He authored the best-seller “Too Close to Call: The 36-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election,” the story of the Bush-Gore presidential recount and the basis for an HBO movie.

For more information about the Yakima Town Hall Speaker Series, visit

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