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Democracy Works

135 EpisodesProduced by Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy/The Democracy GroupWebsite

Examining what it means to live in a democracy


Civil rights, civil unrest

As protests continue throughout the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death, we’ve been thinking a lot about comparisons to the Civil Rights era and whether the models for demonstrations created during that era are still relevant today. As we’ve discussed on the show before, public memory is a fuzzy thing and we’re seeing that play out here amid discussions of how peaceful protests should be.

Our guest this week is uniquely suited to speak to questions of civil rights and civil unrest. Clarence Lang is the Susan Welch Dean of Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and professor of African American Studies. He is a scholar in African American urban history and social movements in the Midwest and Border South. He is the author of Grassroots at the Gateway: Class Politics and Black Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, 1936-75, and Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties: Notes on the Civil Rights Movement, Neoliberalism, and Politics.

In addition to his scholarly work, Lang also has a personal connection to what’s happening right now. He grew up on Chicago’s South Side and a family member who was a police officer. He’s a humanist at heart who believes that our country can pull together and overcome these trying times.

Additional Information

Lang’s website

Grassroots at the Gateway

Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A list of podcasts about racism and inequality from the Bello Collective

Uniting for Action: America

Related Episodes

The ongoing struggle for Civil Rights

School segregation then and now

What neoliberalism left behind

Episode Credits

This episode was recorded on June 2, 2020. It was engineered by Jenna Spinelle, edited by Jen Bortz, and reviewed by WPSU News Director Emily Reddy.

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