DiscoverDemocracy WorksBreaking down black politics
Breaking down black politics

Breaking down black politics

Update: 2020-02-24
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As the South Carolina primary approaches, all eyes are on the African American vote. This week, Michael Berkman is taking over the interviewer’s chair for a roundtable discussion on black politics with Ray Block and Candis Watts Smith, who are associate professors of African American studies and political science at Penn State.


Ray is the author of Losing Power: Americans and Racial Polarization in Tennessee Politics. Candis is the author of Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter and Racial Stasis: The Millennial Generation and the Stagnation of Racial Attitudes in American Politics.


They discuss the history of black politics and how it’s evolved in the years since the Civil Rights movement, how President Trump and the Democratic presidential candidates are received by African Americans, and how the Civil Rights movement and Black Lives Matter are informed by broader social and generational trends.


With so much punditry going on around appealing to black voters, we hope you’ll enjoy the opportunity to take a step back from the punditry and look at the broader issues in black politics and how they relate to things like representation and inequality.


Additional Information


Ray’s book, Losing Power: Americans and Racial Polarization in Tennessee Politics


Candis’s books Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter and Racial Stasis: The Millennial Generation and the Stagnation of Racial Attitudes in American Politics


Candis’s website


Ray’s website


Related Episodes


School segregation then and now


The ongoing struggle for civil rights


Episode Credits


This episode was engineered by Craig Johnson at the WPSU studios, edited by Chris Kugler, and reviewed by Emily Reddy. Additional support comes from Democracy Works interns Nicole Gresen and Stephanie Krane.

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Breaking down black politics

Breaking down black politics

Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy/The Democracy Group