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Challenges to Safeguarding our Democracy

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With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
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Is there an alert system to notify us about the health of our democracy? In this episode we will examine the impact of partisan rancor not seen since the Civil War, declining trust in institutions, doubts about our election process, and the insurrection on January 6, 2021. There is emerging consensus that democracy in the United States is threatened. What can we do about it? Our panel will consider the health of our democracy and discuss solutions for restoring faith in our institutions and our democratic systems for everyone. This series builds upon Suffolk University’s historic mission of access, opportunity, and engagement with our alumni and the communities to which we belong. It’s sponsored by the Department of Political Science and Legal Studies in collaboration with the Ford Hall Forum, The Washington Center and GBH’s Forum Network.

James E. Clyburn is the Majority Whip and the third-ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives. He previously served in the post from 2007 to 2011 and served as Assistant Democratic Leader from 2011 to 2019. When he came to Congress in 1993 to represent South Carolina’s sixth congressional district, Congressman Clyburn was elected co-president of his freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was subsequently elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Vice Chair, and later Chair, of the House Democratic Caucus. As a national leader, he has championed rural and economic development and many of his initiatives have become law. His 10-20-30 federal funding formula was included in four sections of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Congressman Clyburn is also a passionate supporter of historic preservation and restoration programs. His efforts have restored scores of historic buildings and sites on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities. His legislation created the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, elevated the Congaree National Monument to a National Park, and established the Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Congressman Clyburn’s humble beginnings in Sumter, South Carolina as the eldest son of an activist, fundamentalist minister and an independent, civic-minded beautician grounded him securely in family, faith and public service. His memoir, Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, was published in 2015, and has been described ‎as a primer that should be read by every student interested in pursuing a career in public service. Jim and his late wife, Emily England Clyburn, met as students at South Carolina State and were married for 58 years. They are the parents of three daughters; Mignon Clyburn, Jennifer Reed, and Angela Clyburn and four grandchildren.
Daniels, an expert on voting rights, has served as a deputy chief in the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. She has more than a decade of voting rights experience, bringing cases that involved various provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and other voting rights statutes. Before beginning her voting rights career, Daniels was a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights, representing death row inmates and bringing prison condition cases. She was a Root Tilden Scholar at New York University School of Law and clerked in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals with the Hon. Joseph W. Hatchett. Her areas of expertise and interest also include religion and democracy.
Jared Holt is a resident fellow at Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), based in Washington, DC. Prior to joining DFRLab, Jared worked as an investigative reporter at Right Wing Watch, where he covered right-wing extremist movements in the United States. His work has been published in outlets including the Washington Post, HuffPost, Columbia Journalism Review. Jared graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2015. He currently lives in Washington D.C.
Laura is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on institutions, regime and regime change in Latin America. Her book manuscript studies opposition strategies against the erosion of democracy. Using the case of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, it analyzes how opposition strategic choices and goals can decisively affect the ability of executives with hegemonic aspirations to erode democracy. An article summarizing an early version of the argument was published in Comparative Politics. She is also part of different collaborative projects on topics related to corruption, voting behavior, congressional politics, political parties and transitional justice. The first findings of some of these projects have been published in Political Research Quarterly, Electoral Politics, Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, and Terrorism and Political Violence. She received her PhD from the University of Notre Dame. She has a B.A. with Honors in History from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
Schachter’s own experience as a field correspondent included Middle East reporting for The World for eight years. He covered the second Palestinian Intifada, reporting extensively from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Schachter had the good timing to be in Iraq when the Hussein family was caught – Uday and Qusay during summer 2003, and father Saddam that December. He’s also reported stories from throughout Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. His stories have won awards from the duPont Columbia School of Journalism and the Scripps Howard Institute. Before joining The World, Schachter worked in Los Angeles as editor, reporter, and host of the Marketplace Morning Report, and as a reporter for the Los Angeles bureau of National Public Radio. Schachter has served as a reporter and anchor at Colorado public radio in Denver, WBUR in Boston and WFCR, New England Public Radio, in Amherst, MA. When not chained to his desk or being the perfect father to his two boys, Schachter enjoys attempting to mountain bike, hike, backcountry ski and other hard guy activities he has no business participating in.

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