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tv   Author Discussion on Race Class and Partisan Divide in America  CSPAN  May 1, 2022 3:44am-4:36am EDT

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eugene taylor sutton bishop of the episcopal diocese of maryland that collection of about a hundred or so 110 congregations around central, maryland. that's been around since the beginning of maryland and colonial time and also with our experience of slavery and racism. welcome to this session where we're talking generally about the state of racial. race relations and racial politics and america today. it's my privilege to moderate this session and to introduce our authors of the books that we will be highlighting today.
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we will have about a half a half an hour for a discussion among ourselves and then we will throw this open to you to ask any questions you may going to the microphone there. adam russell taylor to my left his president of sojourners an ecumenical christian organization? that works to advance justice and peace. he previously led the faith initiative at the world bank group. served as vice president of advocacy for world. vision usa was co-founder and executive executive director of global justice. and was selected as a white house fellow under the obama administration. a graduate of emory university receiving a ba and international studies. he earned his master's degree in public policy at the harvard. university kennedy school of government and a master's degree
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at the samuel dewitt proctor school of theology. reverend taylor as ordained in the american baptist church and the progressive national convention and serves that the historic alfred street baptist church in alexandria, virginia the author of several articles and publications including two books mobilizing. hope faith inspired activism for a post-civil rights generation and his recent book that we are talking about today a more perfect union a new vision. for building the beloved community please join me in welcoming driver. theodore or r johnson theodore roosevelt johnson goes by ted. he is a senior fellow and director of the fellows program at the brennan center for justice at the new york university school of law.
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where he undertakes research and race politics and american identity. prior to joining the brennan center he was a national fellow at new america. and a commander in the united states navy. serving for 20 years in a variety of positions. including also as a white house fellow in the obama administration. did you two know each other then? no actually two years apart. i think it is just in the first administration and as a speech writer to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. his work on race relations has appeared in prominent national publications across the political spectrum. including the new york times magazine the atlantic washington post wall street journal the national review and several other publications a native of north carolina. he is a graduate of hampton
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university in virginia and harvard university. and holds a doctorate of law and policy from northeastern university. he is the author of the book. we are highlighting today. when the stars begin to fall overcoming racism and renewing the promise of america, please. join me in welcoming ted johnson. gentlemen, welcome welcome. as you can see i'm with a faith-based organization and i want to begin by having you tell a little bit about your upbringing. and also as you might imagine, i'm especially a curious about your spiritual or religious upbringing which may have shaped your imagination and values that led the things that you to do the things that you've accomplished in your life. so let's begin with you just a bit about your upbringing yourself. yeah, so, thank you. thank you all for being here.
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thanks to the key school for hosting and annapolis books festival. so look i grew up in north carolina the child of two ibmers. i grew up like theo huxtable in the cosby show, and i think this based on the age range here and i think most don't know who theo huxtable is from cosby show, but i am the grandchild of sharecroppers my parents my mother from southwest, georgia my father from south carolina their parents were sharecroppers and grew up lived almost their entire lives under jim crow, but they were very religious people my grandfather or my father's side was a reverend. his father was a reverend and on my mother's side. my grandparents were one was a deacon another deaconess very involved in the church. we're just to say i grew up in the black church three to four times a week from ages of five to about 17 and it was a baptist church but much closer to full gospel where folks would often
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praise dance and speak in tongues, and it was very immersive experience. i bring that up because there is an unyielding optimism and faith in the black church and that combined with my military service has made my patriotism as sort of combined my patriotism. faith into a single thing. and so this book is very much based off of my belief in the promises of america and our ability to achieve those promises and even if we never do and perhaps america is the ultimately uncompletable project having faith that tomorrow will be better than yesterday is is a remnant of my upbringing the last thing i'll say is that faith is also born in the story of black folks in america. who am i to lose faith as a childhood middle class child when my grandparents under jim crow didn't lose faith when my great grandparents a great great
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grandparents actually in slavery didn't lose faith. and so if they can wake up each morning and see a better version of america if not for them than for their children in those times then certainly i can at least do the same and try to leave a better nation for my kids than the one i inherited. thank you. thank you ted adam. yeah, i think someone echo the thanks to the annapolis book festivals honor to be here. thank you bishop sudden for the introduction and for moderating this so my parents made the controversial decision to marry each other in 1960 8 controversial because my mother's black my father's wife and it it's been important to me to remember that they got married just a year after interracial marriage was legalized in this country through the case of loving versus state of virginia in 1967. they instilled to me this really deep and abiding belief that i am not just well i and all of us
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importantly are made in the image of god. and that kind of my diversity as someone who's biracial identifies black, but it's biracial is a gift and not a weakness. it is a strength and not a liability. and they also told me this belief that my gener. generation x and we share the same generation ted inherited the unfinished business of the civil rights struggle. and so i grew up kind of in the shadow of that struggle and very much internalized this strong sense that it was our job to take the baton and push that unfinished business further. i really as a result of that tried to study as much as i could about the civil rights movement and became you know, very aware right away that the the kind of driving force of the movement was the infrastructure of the black church and obviously many others joined in that movement, but became extremely inspired not just by the leadership prophetic leadership of dr. martin luther king jr. but also so many other church
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leaders and so my sense of faith has always been that kind of faith has to be tied to a public witness and a deep commitment to justice and it's one of the things that brought me to sojourners and we're a christian organization that has been around for 50 years working to inspire christians of all stripes and all types to put their faith into action for peace. justice not as some kind of optional activity or extracurricular activity but is something that is required as integral to christian discipleship. i think i'll just say this i i grew up in a presbyterian church didn't go to church three or four times a week, you know once a week was considered assessed then and then joined a congregational church a little bit later and then decided to go to college at emory probably because i got a scholarship which i was grateful for but also because i really wanted to spend time in the south and literally my first sunday after
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arriving to college as a freshman. i went on a pilgrimage to ebenezer baptist church and in that sermon by reverend roberts that sunday morning. he seamlessly weaved together a commitment to a personal redeeming relationship with christ, which i still believe in and believe is so important with a commitment to justice and to peace in this world and i joined that same sunday became a baptist within the kind of progressive national baptist tradition and then a number of years later ultimately got ordained so certainly have that kind of sense of calling as a reverend, but i really live out that calling and my work associate. thank you adam. i'm going to ask you. both about the writing of this book writing a book is a birthing process and has all the joys when it becomes out but it's but as you in particular
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adam why this book a more perfect union what happened that caused you to say i've got to put this in print and get this out there because something's burning in me. yeah. no. thank you that question. so i had a accident existential and spiritual crisis kind of a breaking within my spirit the morning after the 2016 election. and i am not a partisan person. so i'm not saying this in any way to sound partisan. but you know if you can kind of take a little time castle back in your own mind where you were the emotions you felt that even in the morning after the election and at the time i was in a very comfortable position working for the world bank. i was leading an initiative on faith trying to build partnerships between religious organizations and the world bank to fight poverty. and i was watching the election from a distance. and was extremely alarmed by what i was seeing.
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particularly the kind of dog whistles that were being used which certainly are not new but they were becoming much more avert and was alarm that then candidate trump was stoking and appealing to some of the worst vices in american life and history particularly device or put in religious terms a sin of racism of xenophobia of misogyny. and that that was having some resonance in particular with a lot of white christians and white evangelical christians in particular and so the morning of the election or after the election might then five year old son joshua. came into our room and i my wife and i had tried to shield them from the election which is kind of impossible when you live in this area for those of you do. and he had internalized a lot more than we realized. so he comes in our room destroy and he's like, mommy and daddy. i need to know who won the election. i mean like well, think mr. trump won. and he said how did someone who said and did such mean things when? and you know as a preacher, i'm
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not typically speechless. but i would literally was speechless in that moment and i just felt this anguish because i couldn't explain to him nor could i understand myself how this had happened and it wasn't just about an election. obviously election exposed a lot of what had been festering underneath the surface for so long and one of the things that is kind of the reason for this book is i wanted to try to cast a vision for the country that could unify us across many of our divisions and paint a picture for why a multiracial democracy is actually in line with our values and has a place for everyone. it's actually a place that we would all be able to thrive in and would be be able to celebrate. we have somehow been convinced that our growing racial diversity demographic change is kryptonite rather than being our superpower and i was taught to believe that again. our diversities are superpower, but we have to do a lot of work
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to convince a lot of others including christians that that's a case and we've got to work to help create that reality together. thank you, mr. johnson your book when the stars begin to fall why this book? yeah, so in 1901 i think it was when wb the boys published the souls of black folk and in it, he has this line where he says that black people in the united states have to have a double consciousness a kind of tunis and he says he describes it as being a -- and an american these two forces pulling in different directions and only the strength of the of the black american is enough to keep the body from being torn asunder by trying to be these two different identities that that seem to be so incompatible and as a black american who spent two decades in the military, i don't see my blackness or my americanness as incompatible. certainly there have been times of tension and the probably 30
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to 40 police stops. i've had over the course of my driving career suggests that the tension is not is not completely debated but i wanted to write a book about racism in the united states that also expresses the love of country. lots of people talk about racism in the united states and lots of people talk about it in a way that almost denigrates the united states in the process and i i sympathize with that anger, but i wanted to know can you talk about racism from a place of love? and the answer is absolutely yes baldwin knew this, you know, lots of black writers have talked about this langston hughes etc. but but in the last decade, it's harder to find such a book and so i want to write one. yeah, this book is talking not about like political strategies. it's not partisan. it is talking mostly about the the beliefs and ideals of our country what is racialized about equality or liberty or democracy intuitively.
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it should be nothing in the history of the united states. all of those things have been racialized and and depending on your immig. status and nation awards and etc. and so i wanted to write a book that tackled these ideals and show how that that how they are inherently compatible with a multiracial society, but is is extremely difficult to build because the people americans are resistant to the idea that a nation founded as ours was could evolve into something completely different from what the founders may have had in mind when they created it. so i make the case with history sociology political science, but i also spend about a third of this book in memoir talking about my family's american story to show how people can endure the worst impulses and still maintain a deep abiding faith in the america's principles. patriotic. yes and love of america. yes. where's is there any role for anger? and i'm thinking of some time ago. i was presenting before a group
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on racial justice and reparations. and i said even though i'm a pacifist and a loving person and a lot of ways, but my but yet i also said at many points. i'm an angry man. i'm an angry black man in america. what would you guys say then? what is it possible to be an angry african? american yet be patriotic and love of the country and have loved country. so i would so i answer this in two ways first, i would say let's interrogate what the anger is directed towards. is it possible to be angry at? shortcomings of a nation that says it was founded on the idea that we're all created equal that we have unalienable rights and that government derives. it's just powered from the consent of the government. it is very possible to be angry at a nation that is in breach of the social contract simply because of the color of your skin. i think i don't know if it's possible to be angry at your
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fellow americans and believe in a democracy that is inclusive because that anger will cause you to see them as enemies and you need them even if you disagree to build a kind of country you want and the very briefly the second thing i would say is i don't know that's anger. i this is my this is my preacher talking from three decades ago, but but righteous indignation, you know a sort of it's you it's it's a sort of old emotion that is still moral still principled and meant to get the best out of people in our society instead of a sort of unbridled passionate emotion. that seeks expression perhaps more than anything else. yeah. thanks a agree with your answer there. i just build on it by saying. you know at least from the christian perspective jesus showed a lot of righteous in the nation against the injustice as
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of his time, you know, he went into the temple and overturn the tables of money changers, not simply because they were defying the temple but also because they were exploiting people in the temple. and so i think there's a really important and powerful role for anger because the opposite of anger can just be apathy or complacency and i think that's been one of the reasons why systemic racism has been so persistent and so stubborn in the course of our history and the present the other other piece to this is that i think that there's a way in which our anger can lead us to be being willing to engage in prophetic critique, but that still has to be done from a posture of love. so if we're doing it from a poster of self-righteousness or a posture of resentment that can easily kind of poison the well if you will so, i think we have to really interrogate ourselves to make sure that we are doing in a way that is ultimately trying to change hearts and minds that is trying to
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transform systems and structures rather than as a way to defeat the other or our enemy the last thing i just emphasize is that you know, the the call to love our enemies which isn't just in the christian tradition is probably one of the most powerful anecdotes to so much of the contempt and vitriol we see in our politics today. yes, and it is so desperately needed. it's easy to kind of say those words, but you know the actually embrace that commitment i think is really really important right now. and especially when anger of course is channeled as you say into some positive action, i believe that yesterday both of you were at the celebration for katana. katongi brown jackson, right? the white house and i was struck by the fact. yes. and hearing interviews about some of the sisters whom she become her sisters at harvard law how they would band together and they they would remind what
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the hearings reminded them of in the questioning the kind of questioning. she got which questioning her. her judgment in so many ways. yes that's anger producing, but she didn't express it in the hearings. she seems to have learned to channel that into. positive action that's it guys any word about yesterday? are they? have lots of words. yeah. oh my goodness, so look, i put it like this yesterday before going i i learned. a bit of family history okay, so and this is it's in the book my my great-great-grandfather and grandmother were a men and woman named bill and ella humphrey. they had their oldest son was named joe humphrey. that is my great-grandfather. joe humphrey had a sister named
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ella. and ella has a great granddaughter whose name was catanji brown jackson. and my mother who this line passed away last year? and a lot when i listened to catanji brown jackson yesterday she quoted my angelo saying you know, i do so with the gifts my from my ancestor. my ancestors gave me. i am the dream and the hope of the slave. there is something in the blood her extremely patriotic acceptance speech her extremely patriotic opening statement her repeated proclamations for love of america. despite how she was treated and part of the confirmation hearing echoes the themes and in these books and so to be there yesterday after only learning it hours before of this sort of deep bloodline connection suggests to me that what is in this book is in my blood and and
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i'm just happy to be very distantly connected to the history. that was meant yesterday. thank you for sure. thanks. thanks for sharing that and condolences for your loss last year it was it was humbling to be there yesterday and it was so edifying and so inspiring i didn't realize how much i needed that jolt of inspiration and of hope. her speech was remarkable for all the reasons that the ted just mentioned. she also talked about how? you know has taken 232 years and a hundred and fifteen prior appointments for a black woman to be appointed the first supreme court justice. and she really didn't clean that as her own success or her own victory. she really described it as our victory. and she said we have come a long
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way and perfecting a more perfect union. it only took one generation to come from segregation to the supreme court. and what that why that's so powerful and why i think it really ties into both of our books. is there is this tension between how far we have come and how much change has happened? i think we need to acknowledge that and celebrate that and yet we are in a moment. where a more perfect unions feels so far away and when i wrote the book, i mean part of what i was seeing is that we are in this moment of what i call toxic polarization where our divisions have metastasized into something much more dangerous where it's not it's no longer that i just dislike or distrust someone of a different political perspective or maybe a different race. now the majority of americans actually have contempt toward the other political other if you will and want to defeat them rather than try to convince them or convert them.
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and so, you know, i think that we have to be honest about the challenge we face that have been exposed by the covid pandemic and the way that's been so revealing about racial inequality in this country the backlash that we saw after the racial awakening summer. i don't call it a reckoning because reckoning requires you actually change policy and we never got there particularly when it comes to policing but we had a partial awakening that then led to a backlash where we're now debating in countries and in school boards around the country whether we're actually going to teach the fullness and the truth about our history i've had chapter in my book that this is called the in the truth will set you free and i make the case that until we have a shared baseline of knowledge and a memory about our past. we will remain captive in some of that past and not be able to build a shared future going forward and so again, i just feel this this kind of cot between real progress that we you know celebrated yesterday. and we should celebrate and so
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much of the pain and the struggle that we remain in as a result of where we are. yes, and thank you so much for that in a sense of yes much much progress, but so much more needs to happen in living in that tension. so a survey by the pew research center a few years ago stated and this is a quote. a majority of americans say race relations in the united states are bad. and of those about 7 and 10 say things are getting even worse. roughly two-thirds say it's become more common for people to express racist or in racially insensitive views in the last five years. even if not necessarily more acceptable. so maybe just a quick temperature check temperature check from both of you as you look out. american society today, what are you seeing is happening today?
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how would you describe the racial climate? i would say it is not what you see on tv. um, i think that that most americans as they move around their communities do not see the level of anger and vitriol on a daily basis like they see on tv. i have neighbors who are trump supporters. i still have friends that i served in the military with who are trump supporters, and they are not like the folks who storm the capitol, but they were very unhappy that katangian. jackson is now a supreme court justice, you know, and so i think the the level of anger and willingness to undermine democracy that we see on the news is not nearly as prevalent in our in at least in my day-to-day life as watching the news might suggest that said even if 80 90% of americans want
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an inclusive equitable sort of democracy. multiracial democracy the 10% on either side that don't or the 5% on either side, whatever it is they get biggest megaphones they get the most attention and they drive a lot of what gets covered which makes it seem like we are much more divided than we actually are. i don't want to suggest that it's not real the divisions are deep and biting we've been fighting this since our inception, but only to suggest that every encounter in the grocery store is not donald trump versus aoc that we are able to still be americans and communal and hold whole difference. yeah, i i think that is true. i do. i think that the the state of race relations is at least for my advantage point a little bit more volatile. it's almost like tinderbox that is just waiting to to further explode and partly as i say that is, you know, also a few study
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they asked americans about a whole series of different political issues in terms of what motivates them and the most explanatory issue in terms of how people vote was whether they the which they saw racial injustice is still being a ever and present problem in american life. and that predicted kind of which way they they would go politically. we look at the racial awakening summer of 2020 after horrific murder of george floyd. that sparked, you know biggest protests in american history and a pretty significant shift in public opinion. it was very fleeting and you now asked many of those same americans particularly white american christians, whether they see policing or problems and policing is being systemic and they say no these are just isolated incidents there really isn't a problem here. so i do think that we've got huge challenges in terms of what i call a perception gap of
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whether you know racial injustice is systemic and is something that we need to root out. we have a narrative gap about who our country is and that's part reason why i focus in my my book. on this moral vision that dr. kingcast in addition to so many others of the beloved community because i make the argument that we are shaped by the stories. we tell ourselves. we are shaped in ways that hold us captive and we're shaped in ways that set us free and the beloved community is such a powerful moral vision same vision that animated the civil rights movement because i think it is a welcoming inclusive vision that is rooted in a lot of our shared ideals and values those areas that very ideals that really are about the the hope and the promise of america and so for me the beloved community is about building a society. we're neither punishment or privilege is tied to race ethnicity to gender to ableness and to sexual orientation and the things that really define
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our identities. and yet today. tragically both privilege and punishment are viciously tied to race and many different respects. so i guess you know, i'm saying that in part to say that i think you know, there's so much work that needs to be done and the other last gap that i'll mention or kind of devastated is the the relational deficit the neighborhood that you live in ted is sounds wonderful, but it might be more the exception rather than the norm right? and you know, i want to see the country move more in that direction, but at least you know some of the the pulling that i've seen says we've actually kind of drifted away from that so ted, do you live in a normal neighborhood? no, no, my neighborhood is adoration. no. no, but here's what i'll say is that i certainly structural racism remains a significant issue in our country and perhaps has become more sophisticated now than it was decades ago.
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i think the level of racial hatred in our country is nothing like it. like decades ago and that's the distinction that i draw and so i the neighborhood i live in structural racism is present and and the fact that i'm probably one of you know a neighborhood that's like 2% black. it's probably is is evidence of that and it is also true that when i go for a run i don't have to worry about racial hatred following me, but i am very am i acutely aware of who gives me the second or third look when they're walking their dog or how many times a police car may pass by and so i disassociate these things and as opposed to attaching sort of emotions and people's feelings to the structures. i try to untangle those things so that we can be very forthright about the role of racism in our society without
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making personal indictments as being the genesis of the structural racism i see it as the other way around. i'm just going to ask a few more questions and then i have a lot of questions to ask but you and the audience here if anyone is has a question they want to ask the authors. please come forward to the microphone and i'll call on you. at the right time racism both of you talk about racism as being somewhat systemic and structural as you just said which is different than on an interpersonal level one interpersonally. we can be quite fine. but yet we we are in an a system that's problematic. so first mr. johnson, you've divided you've devoted a lot of your life to defending our nation. against threats foreign and domestic and protecting our democratic institutions and your
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book you offer an impassioned account of what we need to save our nation. saying that racism poses an existential threat to american democracy. why is racism a political threat as much as it is a moral failure? yeah, and so you're right though the opening argument in the book is that racism is an existential threat to america and when i say this, i mean that structural racism is an existential threat to the american ideals not that racism is going to lead to another civil war and destroy the judo geopolitical entity. we call the united states and i say this because if we believe the promise of america, it's captured in the second paragraph of the declaration, which is that we're all created equal that we have these unalienable rights that government derives. it's just power from the consent of the governed. none of that is compatible with racial inequality. none of that is compatible with a society structured in a way such that a person based on the color of their skin has less opportunity or has or w hard to
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achieve something that someone else with a different skin color may may be able to achieve attain so the two cannot touch without bruising that the more you heed hue to the american promise racial inequality necessarily must reduce and if it doesn't if you allow structural racism to persist then that means the commitment to our nation's principles are more superficial than they are and sort of a moral more compass. so that's what i mean when i say existential threat, i do not discount the role of personal animus interpersonal relations, but i but i i truly believe in order for the country to address structural racism. it has to be through our systems institutions processes and that requires public policy and i believe that if you make only moral arguments that that is insufficient more times than not to compel the nation to undertake the public policy transformations that are required and so you have to marry your moral to the national
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interest in order to show the nation state while it's why it is in its interest to behave in a way that is more principled than ethical. and the question of race in particular and thank you and and reverend taylor in a similar vein you say in your book that america is at a pivotal crossroads. the soul of our nation is at stake and in peril. process of healing and creating a more perfect union in our nation must start now and must always be tied to creating a more just an inclusive nation. those are great words, but when you say the nation itself is at stake and in peril, can you expand on that? what do you yeah, i mean i think. as we reflected on a little bit. we are at a really kind of. dangerous crossover moment in the sense that so much of our polit. have become tribalized or have
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become very much tied to identity and again, this isn't a new phenomenon, but i think that it's gotten worse in the last number of years. just according to a lot of data. we haven't been this polarized as a society since the height of the 1960s. and i think there's number of reasons for that certainly the role of social media and amplifying a lot of our divisions and giving microphone to the most strident voices one to kind of touched on that. but i also think it's because there's so much work that we haven't done both about being, you know able to have harder conversations about our history and how the history continues to show up in the present and to be able to build deeper relationships that enable us to see a kind of way forward together and you know, there's gonna be no magic bullet to heal all this but i think without a shared sense of moral vision, i
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i fear that we are going to continue to kind of be captive to the worst instincts of our of our camps. it's interesting because you know, i for those of you haven't seen the cover of the book the more probably should be in purple rather than blue, but in case it's in blue and that's very intentional. because we have to resist this kind of exceptional impulse that sometimes says that america will always just be on this inexorable path toward perfection rather than saying the beauty and the brilliance of america is in the striving to become the more perfect union. and that means we got to resist and name the ways we fallen short but also celebrate and love the ways in which we have made progress as we've talked about and so so for me at least, you know, the journey toward a more perfect union has to be inextricably tied to the journey of building a more inclusive and just multiracial democracy and that's why i'm most concerned
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about the ways in which racism is kind of showing up at our politics because it is fueling a series of attacks on the very integrity of our democracy particularly through restricting. what's john congressman john lewis describe is sacred right to vote. it's not coincidental that we have have seen this flurry of bills. after january 6 after the big lie that the last election was stolen became believed by the majority of republicans in this country. we are now seeing 440 bills that have either been proposed or enacted that make it more difficult to vote in 49 states across the country. that is a very deliberate play that understands that. we you know at least in the mindset of those that are passing these bills that we have got to slow down this this demographic shift that's happening and to me that is going to harm our democracy. it's also harming i think the
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witness of the church because a lot of people that are buying into this also our christian or people of faith. and so this is a moment where not only do i think kind of our faith is at stake, but our democracy is at stake and right together 10 seconds on to add on to what adam said, there are presently a hundred. 18 pending or past bills in the states looking to that that are so called anti-crt anti-critical race theory bills. these are these are bills that are supposed to prevent people from talking. you know, i think really explicitly about things like structural racism and and alongside these things are also book bands, which should be, you know, especially a born to the folks in this room. so we've legislation not only to suppress people's ability to participate in democracy, but also to suggest that maybe people's experience in america should also be suppressed and and not included.
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john john mccain on the night that he lost the presidency to barack obama said nothing about america is inevitable and to your point. that is absolutely true. the more is the animating force for every needs to be the animating force for every generation if we're going to make this country live closer to its principles, but it's not going to happen on its own. it's not an expert. but thank you and we're going to get back to a few minutes. yes a question that the microphone. yeah. thank you for being here really appreciate all of the ideas. you're expressing. so a practical question if when you're dealing in your regular life about political stuff social stuff, how do you tie in your spiritual life your life of prayer in with that? because it they somehow weave, but i'm wondering if each of you could speak to how you personally weave that in and
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maybe i can glean some ideas to do on my own. thank you. a great question, so first thing i'll say is that there's no question that my fate anchors me and it's sustains me. i i think i would have become bitter and burnt out and this kind of long journey of kind of making. social justice activism a major part of my career if it wasn't for my faith and and i'm saying that because one i mean, i really believe in one of my favorite gospel songs, but yolanda adams says this battle is not yours. it's the lord's and so i really try to remember that that i'm kind of not doing this on my own feeble strength and limited wisdom that i really am leaning on a greater power. and that secondly we have to work really really hard to resist hate to resist. denigrating those who we are
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trying to change or we're you know that our quote unquote our enemies and i think that there's a lot of spiritual resilience and strength and you know for me at least i try to pray for those that you know have a very different political point of view or maybe in positions of power regularly, and certainly that is an injunction within the bible to pray for those who are in elected office and i admit like i i had a really hard time doing it or harder time doing it under president trump, but i continue to pray for him hoping and praying that you know, there'd be some changes and the way he governed so the very last thing i'll say is that i feel like our spiritual communities are so important this regard. this is one of the reasons why i'm so kind of concerned an alarm that a lot of the polarization that we see in our politics is now seeped into our families and it's seeped into the church and the synagogue and into the end of the mosque. to the point where you know, there are churches that are becoming more and more
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homogeneous politically and and for me the church is one of those beautiful places where you can come together have very political views but your centered in a love for christ your centered in a set of values that we find as a result of our faith that should provide a kind of common language and a common foundation upon which we could try to live life together and act together. and so there's so much more work that needs to be done to try to recreate the churches that space and you know, hopefully then align the work of the church to the work of justice and peace. as well if you want to i would just say that there's a civic aspect to this too. and i spend a chapter in the book talking about a civil religion and the role of sort of sort of the religious characteristics of belonging in a civic society and such that you know, this is an old concept as old asian drop rousseau updated by robert bella in the 60s, but the 10 second version of it. is that in the same way that
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traditional religions have observances indeedies and rituals and symbols if you look at civics and especially in the united states. we have them too our symbols the flag the statue of liberty are rituals the pledge of allegiance the national anthem our observances memorial day the independence day if you want to know who are where our pimp pantheon is. oh go to washington on the mall and you'll see monuments to to the the americans from king through lincoln to washington who have embodied who've been the embodiment of what we believe our principles are so there is a civic version of prayer and i don't mean to make this sound at idolatrist at all or anything, but that there's a a version of faith in your country of faith in your your community and your society. that is all so necessary if it's if we're ever to realize these moral and very principle ideals that nation was found. i'll just say briefly as well the obviously, it's very
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important to me. but i'm distrustful of those who at least speak of prayer in their life and relationship with god in jesus. but do nothing. to address injustice in the nation or the world at that point, i don't believe their religion. i believe then that that's a self-centered thing of just me and jesus or the lord, but it has no real effect. and so as the old testament prophets the old hebrew prophets, that's it. god wants justice to roll down. and that counts more. than how much how close you think you are personally to god? so tenant adam, thank you so much for being here. i really appreciate all your comments and i would just love to ask you what should and could every single one of us in this room be doing to help drive that
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public policy process to start to overcome some of these structural issues. solutions and in two minutes. yeah, you know without the being shamelessly. so promoting sojourners is a vehicle certainly in a platform. we have active campaigns that are focused on economic justice and increasing economic opportunity. we've done a lot to try to pass now a reconciliation package. now that build back better is kind of on life support, but we have not given up and i think so much of what was in that bill including you know, the expansion of the child tax credit just as one example was such an incredible achievement lifted eight million children out of poverty and we can disagree about a lot of things but i think people from every political vantage point should agree that having millions of children living in the growing up in the quick santa poverty. really it's not good for our country. it's a kind of betrayal of our values and so you know that that that's kind of one one area
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another area. we have a campaign called face united. it's just save democracy and it sounds you know, very big and bold but we feel like the challenges facing our democracy are big and bold it is a multi-faith multi-racial intergenerational campaign. that is trying to equip into mobilize people of faith to engage in voter registration. mobilization efforts voter education efforts to figure out how they can still exercise the right to vote despite so many things changing because of some of these bills and then ultimately voter protection, which is increasingly necessary so you can you can learn more about that campaign at turnout and then i guess the last thing i say is that there's so much work that needs to be done locally. i mean a lot of my focus is more on federal politics, but politics start locally at home. and so there's lots of great organizations you can turn to really quickly one of the things that i'm most concerned about is that you know now probably
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because of increased gerrymander districts around the country 90% of congressional elections are basically decided in the primary. which is incentivizing so much of the zero sum. us versus them thinking in our politics that we're really trying to transform and so that's another kind of area that needs does desperate attention. yes, so i think that two things that the first thing is just to insist upon a more inclusive participatory democracy and whatever laws that need to pass to make it easier for people to participate support those you are more likely to be hit by lightning on your way to the car after this then for someone to successfully vote in person twice. so voter fraud is not something you need to be worried about voter exclusion. suppression is much more prevalent, and we've got the data to support it the second part of this is get to know americans who are not like you who are look differently pray
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differently live in different places if we create a great system, and we don't know our neighbors then we will just find ways to work make sure the system works for us and sometimes to the exclusion so the what the kind of social contact necessary for a functioning democracy to happen is the best thing you can do today is to put yourself in places where you are not the majority and to make social connections with your fellow americans. yeah, and i and i my dad be before we say farewell our authors here. please please please put your money where your mouth is put your feet where your heart is. and and do the work of repair we didn't get to the issue of reparations today and what that means to acknowledge the sort of sorted past and the benefit that some have gained from centuries of racism. please study up on that. well my friends we have two
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wonderful authors here too. wonderful gentlemen and patriots who are really helped us along today on racial justice. please join me and expressing gratitude to ted johnson. good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the 2022 annapolis book festival. it's great to be back in person after a couple years being virtual. so thank you all very much for being here. my name is gary gallant. i am the president of the gallant government and law group. it's a bipartisan government relations and law firm based just down the road here in washington, dc. i'm delighted to have the honor of moderating this afternoon's panel entitled a place for us stories of the immigrant and refugee experience and to be able to


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