Community & Government

What the 2020 Election Taught Us

Sherrilyn Ifill examines lessons learned in the 2020 presidential election and the insurgency that followed it. She considers how they are connected to historical realities in America and why Black people cannot leave power on the table.

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Topics include: Don’t Leave Power on the Table

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - V-O-T-E, vote! REPORTER: They're pulling out all the stops in Georgia. There have been record numbers voting early, amid claims the long lines are attempts to dissuade voters. - There's various ways that governments are now trying to suppress the vote. And one of them is a long line keeping people from voting. - There's too many efforts here to take away our rights and to take history backwards. And I'm angered by it. - The thing about the 2020 election is that there's a story about it that's incredibly powerful and positive and important for us to embrace, that tells an extraordinary story about this country. And that's the story about the millions and millions of people who participated in the election in 2020, in the primary elections and in the general elections. There was incredible determination and will to exercise the right to vote. [CHEERING AND APPLAUSE] - And especially those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African-American community stood up again for me. You've always had my back and I'll have yours. [CHEERING AND APPLAUSE] - USA! USA! USA! - But there's a dark side to the story. Those voters had to overcome obstacles that voters should not have to overcome in a democracy. And then, we got to January 6, and we came within a hair's breadth of it all being destroyed. [SLOW MUSIC] We saw violence. [AIR HORN] We saw police officers being killed. [RAUCOUS CROWD] VOICE IN CROWD: Drag them out! - But we also saw people hunting for the Speaker of the House. VOICE IN CROWD: Pelosi! - Pelosi! - We saw people hunting for the vice president of the United States. CROWD: Stop the steal! Stop the steal! - We came that close. We have some real problems in this country that are deep and structural and that have to be confronted with the truth of who we are. [MUSIC PLAYING] The idea that somehow you are a democracy, and then you just stay a democracy, and you don't have to do anything, it's kind of just self-executing, you show up every four years, you vote for the president, no, no. I hope that people understand that now, that what's required is something very different. It doesn't require you to be a professional like me. I do democracy work 24/7. That's my job. You probably have a different job that you go to every day or that you Zoom into every day. But you still have a job to do as a citizen. You are still required to be an active citizen. And citizenship, I think, people have to now understand, is a responsibility to engage. Now, the good news is, you get to choose how you engage. There's so many different ways you can. Some of you have already been doing it. You've been participating in protests. You've been voting, not just in the presidential election, but in every elect...

About the Instructor

From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.

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Angela Davis, Cornel West, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sherrilyn Ifill, Jelani Cobb, and John McWhorter

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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