“There are clearly yawning divides in the United States today, divides that threaten to unravel the very fabric of the ties that unite us as a country,” said Laura Belmonte, the historian who serves as dean of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “These divides are not new; since Reconstruction, the belief that America should be a multiracial democracy has sparked intense debate, entrenched resistance, and episodic violence.”

Belmonte is part of a team spearheading a new webinar series, “America, Race, and Democracy,” in which scholars from across the country are invited to share their knowledge on fundamental challenges facing American democracy. These webinars aim to assess current risks to democracy in the United States and examine how issues related to racial injustice prove critical to matters of democratic representation and political empowerment.

“America, Race, and Democracy” is a partnership of three Virginia Tech sponsors: the Office for Inclusion and Diversity, the Academy of Transdisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and the Equity and Social Disparity in the Human Condition Destination Area.

Visit past event pages linked below to watch the videos.

Past Events

A burned U.S. flag flies in front of the Capitol Building

The deadly storming of the Capitol Building on January 6 dramatically underscored the current crisis in American democracy. “A Crisis of Democracy,” a virtual panel discussion held on January 21, 2021,  brought together Virginia Tech scholars to examine the state of democracy in the United States today, while also making connections to the global political landscape.

The panelists sought to place recent troubling events into historical and comparative context to better understand fundamental challenges to American democracy and where the nation should go from here.

The webinar video is posted on the event page.

Nancy MacLean

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Duke University historian Nancy MacLean puts the assault on democracy from the radical right in a much longer historical timeline, tracing from the New Deal a story that implicates both corporate funders and academic institutions.

On February 16, MacLean presented her insights in a webinar, “Democracy in Chains,” the second installment in the “American, Race, and Democracy” series.

Laura Belmonte, dean of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Michael Moehler, founding director of the Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, served as discussants.

Carol Mason

In “Five Turning Points on the Road to Insurrection,” Carol Mason, a professor of gender and women’s studies and a professor of English at the University of Kentucky, explained five key changes in right-wing America that paved the way to insurrection. She also discussed how those changes relate to the movement for reproductive justice.

The free webinar took place on March 26 from 1 to 2 p.m.

Note: This event was not recorded, at the speaker’s request.

Anthea Butler

Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the interactions of racism and white American evangelicalism in American politics in a webinar on April 20 from 4 to 5 p.m.

The Virginia Tech event was held in conjunction with the publication of her latest book, White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America.

Butler’s presentation, “Race, Politics, and Evangelicalism,” took the form of an online conversation with Sylvester Johnson, founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities and a nationally recognized humanities scholar specializing in the study of technology, race, religion, and national security.

This event was not recorded, at the speaker’s request.