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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

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Apr 16, 2021

On January 5, the run-off election in Georgia flipped the state and created opportunity for a Democrat-led Senate. On January 6, armed insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol Building, resulting in dozens of injuries and several fatalities. UW Professor Christopher Sebastian Parker believes that Donald Trump as chief executive was making matters worse. Yet despite Trump no longer being in office, there seems to be reticence to reckon with the true impact of the actions on January 6. What happened before Trump that created conditions that made us vulnerable? What will be the lasting effects of Trump’s rhetoric?  And what can we discern about the future of American democracy from that Wednesday afternoon?

Parker joined us for a livestreamed panel discussion with University of Washington colleague and political scientist Lance Bennett as well as media and communications expert Kenan Block to dive deeper into an analysis of the current moment. This panel of experts drew on their knowledge of public opinion and social science to explore the possible long-lasting ramifications of the events on January 6. Looking at partisan divisions, the role of media, social justice movements, and more, they examined the pressure points in the country that were thrown into stark relief on that day—and that could impact the future of our national democracy.

Christopher Sebastian Parker, PhD., is the Stuart A. Scheingold Professor of Social Justice and Political Science in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. He is the author of several books, including Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans the Struggle Against White Supremacy in the Postwar SouthChange They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America, written with Matt Barreto. His work has appeared or been featured in the New York Times, the Washington, and more. He has also appeared on MSNBC, PBS, C-SPAN, and the History Channel.

Lance Bennett, PhD., is Emeritus Professor of Communication and Political Science at the University of Washington and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Journalism, Media & Democracy at UW. He is the author of 12 books, including News: The Politics of Illusion and The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the Personalization of Contentious Politics, and most recently, Communicating the Future: Solutions for Environment, Economy and Democracy. His work focuses on restoring democracy and creating economies better adapted to the environmental crisis.

After a long career in journalism, Kenan Block currently heads up Kenan Block Media and Communications, a firm that helps a variety of clients tell their stories. A fifth generation Seattleite, Block’s award-winning journalism career spanned over a dozen years in Washington, D.C. covering politics and national affairs for the PBS NewsHour and later MSNBC. He covered four presidential campaigns, the Congress, White House, and Pentagon during his career. He was part of the team that launched MSNBC, serving as the Chief Washington Producer for The News with Brian Williams. Block was a founding board member of Town Hall. He lives in Seattle and is active in civic and political affairs.

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