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Being American with Deval Patrick
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Being American with Deval Patrick

Author: Deval Patrick

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Former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick will launch a new podcast series on what it means be American in 2020 and beyond. In the weeks before the Election, where not just the character of the candidates or the parties but of the country itself is on the ballot, Patrick will step back from politics to explore today’s national character in conversation with a diverse set of artists, actors, political activists, thought leaders and everyday strivers.”In these are discordant and divisive times, a lot of us feel like we don’t recognize America anymore,” Patrick says. “We come from every place on earth and every station in life, and yet we openly demean each other if we live or think differently. It isn’t clear what unites us, what makes us American.”Patrick continues: “‘Being American’ is a series of conversations with people of uncommon wisdom, some you already know and some you don’t know yet, about what it means or ought to mean today to be American. People are dealing with serious challenges that need specific solutions, but I also sense we need a clearer understanding of who we are, a shared set of values and objectives, if we want those solutions to last. In many ways I have been on this journey for years and I am discovering others are as well.”
13 Episodes
In the final installment of Being American’s first season, Deval talks with Lee Pelton — educator, advocate and civic leader — about the importance of making the invisible visible. Whether in the fight for social justice, the dismantling of racism or the need to further democratize education, how do we properly lift all American experiences out of the darkness?Deval also shares some poignant listener-submitted stories that tackle his ever-present question: What does being American mean to you?
Mehrsa Baradaran is a law professor specializing in banking law at the University of California, Irvine, and her conversation with Deval focuses on the American dream. Our scrappy country was organized against old powers of aristocracy on behalf of the common people, but now counts itself as a world power. How do we move forward with that dichotomy? How do we ensure a communal — and not a selfish — kind of freedom? How do we rebuild ladders of success, no matter the zip code?
In the wake of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Deval shares his conversations with Meb Keflezighi, the Eritrean-born American long distance runner who won the 2014 Boston Marathon, and the legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor. The talks range from their individual upbringings with personal struggles and successes, to finding hope in difficult times — whether it’s a bombing at the finish line, lynchings on our streets or extremist violence in Washington D.C. How do we find light in the darkness? How do we tell America’s stories accurately, with all of its blemishes, and how do we live up to our ideals?
Deval talks with W. Mondale Robinson, founder of the Black Male Voter Project, about his mission to enfranchise Black men. How do we reverse their erosion of trust with electoral politics? They delve into Mondale’s upbringing in North Carolina, his journey to activism, and how we can — and must — build lasting grassroots strength in our communities.
Deval Patrick talks with LaTosha Brown, founder of Black Voters Matter. They talk about why the path to a progressive agenda begins in the South; how she found her way to civil rights leadership; and why she is hopeful about what it means to be American.
Deval sat down with Misty Copeland, the first Black woman principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, to talk about her journey, her art, and her perspective on being American as we head into 2021. One of the most accomplished artists of her generation, she shares her perspectives on community, representation, and strength in an honest, open conversation with Deval Patrick.
Deval sits down with author, activist, and television host Padma Lakshmi to talk about her immigrant journey, how food brings us together, and what it means to find reconciliation and unity in America after a Trump presidency.
A conversation with jazz legend Herbie Hancock on Being American with Deval Patrick. Deval and Herbie talk about their shared Chicago roots; when Herbie crossed paths with Deval’s jazz musician father; and what makes the Grammy- and Oscar-winning-musician hopeful about America’s future. The conversation touches on music, business, and politics as Deval asks Herbie Hancock how he thinks about being American.
In 2018, Deidre DeJear became the first African American to be nominated for statewide office in Iowa. A first-time candidate, she won an upset victory in the Democratic primary on her way to making history in the general election. The 34-year-old small business owner went on to serve as the statewide chair for Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign in Iowa and is a rising star in Democratic politics. In her conversation with Deval, she explains how she made her way to Iowa, why she stayed, and what lessons she learned running in a rural state that voted for President Trump, and what she thinks about when she thinks about being American.
Deval sat down with Louisville native Charles Booker, current State Representative and former candidate for Senate, to talk about what it means to be American. They talk about Charles’s journey to the Kentucky State House, and how a job that took him to Appalachia showed him how much he had in common with people there (25:30) and how he learned to talk about the Green New Deal in coal country (32:00). Then, they talk about the murder of Breonna Taylor (38:30) and how it impacted Charles and his community, including getting tear gassed while accompanying a group of high school students (50:00). Finally, they talk about the race to unseat Mitch McConnell (1:02:45) and why Charles remains hopeful about the future in Kentucky and beyond.
Deval Patrick reacts to an eventful weekend in politics, including the foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the confirmation hearings of SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett and the failure to pass an economic relief package. Then at 8:40, he interviews Adair Ford Boroughs, a South Carolina native running to unseat Republican Joe “You Lie!” Wilson in Congress, about her perspective on what it means to be American. Adair was raised in a double-wide trailer in a rural town, went on to graduate from Stanford Law and serve in both the Bush and Obama Administrations as a DOJ lawyer. Her experience has given her an unusual perspective on the American Dream, and how best to extend it to communities that don’t usually vote for Democrats.
Anand Giridharadas is the author of, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” Other books are “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas,” about a Muslim immigrant’s campaign to spare from Death Row the white supremacist who tried to kill him and “India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking,” about returning to the India his parents left.Anand is also an on-air political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, and a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He is a former columnist and correspondent for The New York Times, having written, most recently, the biweekly “Letter from America.” He has also written for The Times’s arts, business, and travel pages, and its Book Review, Sunday Review, and magazine—and for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.
Deval Patrick is leading a national conversation this year, built around a simple question: What does it mean to be American in 2020?
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