Forging a Multiracial Democracy and Echoes of the 1860s: Gunja SenGupta on The Thought Project

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The January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol “represented the greatest crisis of our democracy” since South Carolina’s secession prior to the Civil War, says historian and author Gunja SenGupta in this wide-ranging discussion of the latest events in Washington, D.C., and their precedent in the 1860s. An expert on the Civil War and slavery, SenGupta is a history professor at The Graduate Center, CUNY and Brooklyn College and the author of two books and a number of book chapters and articles. SenGupta describes the parallels between the events and attitudes that triggered the Civil War and the racism and dissention that came to a head on January 6th. She discusses America’s halting path to forging a multiracial democracy, which, she says, began only after the Civil War ended. William Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” SenGupta explains why we’re living with it and what we can learn from it.

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