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Democracy Works: Civil Rights, Civil Unrest

Clarence Lang
Penn State College of the Liberal Arts

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 had a family member who was a police officer. Ultimately, he's a humanist at heart who believes that our country can pull together and overcome these trying times.   

Jenna Spinelle is the Communications Specialist for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. She is responsible for shaping all of the institute's external communication, including website content, social media, multimedia, and media outreach.