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How is this historic era of political divides, social movements, and economic upheavals—fueled by the pandemic and politics—redefining America? The University of Delaware's National Agenda 2021 fall speaker series, “Reflecting America," celebrates the diversity of our nation with perspectives from political insiders, journalists, authors, artists, and media figures. Scroll down for links to videos of the complete programs, transcripts, podcasts, and news stories.
Lindsay Hoffman, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and political science, directs the National Agenda speaker series and teaches the accompanying class. To learn more about National Agenda, please visit the National Agenda Archive. National Agenda is made possible by generous support from the University of Delaware's Office of the Provost and College of Arts and Sciences.
For questions and comments about this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SEPTEMBER 8 — "Four Years Later" with David Joy and Asma Khalid
Two National Agenda 2017 speakers, novelist David Joy and NPR journalist Asma Khalid, return to the stage to reflect on America in 2021. They were part of the “As We Stand | Divided" series, which explored how geographical, religious, and cultural differences can exacerbate misperceptions and contribute to civil unrest.
David Joy is the author of the Edgar-nominated novel Where All Light Tends to Go (2016). Joy received the 2020 Hammett Award for his most recent book, When These Mountains Burn (2020), for literary excellence in crime writing. Joy also wrote The Line That Held Us (2018) and The Weight of This World (2017). His latest stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, TIME, and Garden & Gun. The sixth-generation North Carolinian grew up in Appalachia and lives in Jackson County, North Carolina. His stories often focus on troubled characters who share a deep connection to the land but struggle with poverty and addiction.
Award-winning journalist Asma Khalid is the White House
correspondent for NPR and co-host of The NPR
Politics Podcast. A bit of a campaign trail addict, Khalid reported on the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections. Her reporting focuses on the intersection of demographics and politics and often dives into the political, cultural, and racial divides in the country. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she covered the crowded Democratic primary field, and went on to report on Joe Biden's candidacy. Khalid's reporting also has taken her to Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and China. She appears on numerous TV programs including ABC's This Week, CNN's Inside Politics, and PBS's Washington Week. A native of Crown Point, Indiana, Khalid graduated from Indiana University and also studied at the University of Cambridge, the London School of Economics, the American University in Beirut and Middlebury College's Arabic School.
SEPTEMBER 22 — “Divisive Issues Through Civil Dialogue” with Berny Jacques and Geston Pierre
Berny Jacques is a former Florida assistant state attorney and Geston Pierre is a pastor, vocalist, and recording artist. Friends since middle school, they are both children of Haitian political refugees who fled political instability that put their families at risk. They settled in Florida—with Pierre's parents arriving a little earlier than Jacques's. Despite their friendship and shared family immigration story, they have reached very different conclusions about politics and social issues in the United States, a country they both dearly love. Instead of allowing their differences to tear apart their relationship, they ask, “Can we imagine a future where we disagree deeply, but still like each other?”
A Republican and a conservative activist, Berny Jacques was named among “30 under 30 rising stars in Florida politics." The active community leader serves as the director of development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. He is also a 2022 Republican candidate for Florida's House of Representatives, representing House District 66.
Geston Pierre is an emerging leader who shares his message both as a pastor and as a musician. After his a capella group Committed won the season 2 title on NBC's The Sing-Off in 2010, he toured the world and became a multi-award nominated vocalist and recording artist. Pierre is also a podcast start-up consultant and co-host of several podcasts.
OCTOBER 6 — "Respecting Differences" with Eric Michael Garcia
Eric Michael Garcia is a senior D.C. correspondent at the Independent, and the author of We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation. Most of his work has focused on American politics and disability rights, as well as the intersection of the two. Eric Garcia hopes to change the dialogue around autism, and the language used to depict those with disabilities. He brings his personal experience as a person with autism to his reporting and stresses autism is not something that needs to be cured or fixed but instead is a part of his identity. Rejecting the term advocacy journalism, Garcia says, “I don’t see myself as an advocate, I see myself as a journalist who covers the autism advocacy movement.”
Eric Garcia previously worked as an editor at the Washington Post and The Hill as well as a reporter for Roll Call, National Journal and MarketWatch. He has also written for the Daily Beast, Spectrum, The Week, the New Republic, Salon, and the American Prospect. Growing up, politics was a frequent topic in his home, which sparked his interest in political journalism. His father is a Republican, his mother is a Democrat. He says his formative childhood memories are watching Fox News with his father, an experience he says gives him an understanding of conservatives. He began his career as an intern in the Obama Administration and is an alumnus of Chaffey College and a graduate of the University of North Carolina. He lives in Washington, D.C.
OCTOBER 20 — “A Generation's Voice” with David Hogg
Thrust into the world of activism by one of the largest school shootings in American history, Parkland survivor David Hogg has become a compelling voice of his generation. On February 14, 2018, a lone teen gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and sprayed bullets from a high-powered military assault rifle. The shooter killed 17 of David's friends, classmates and teachers. The high school senior's call to “get over politics and get something done” immediately placed him in the national and international media spotlight.
Committed to becoming an agent for change, he resolved that no other young person should have to experience the tragic impact of gun violence. He joined with friends from high school to co-found March For Our Lives, now one of the world’s largest youth-led movements. Five weeks after the shooting, March For Our Lives mobilized one of the biggest demonstrations in the nation’s history.
David’s activism has taken him around the country, meeting with impacted families and diverse communities to deepen his knowledge of gun safety and the politics of ending gun violence. With his younger sister, Lauren, also a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he co-wrote #NeverAgain, a New York Times best-seller. David and Lauren also contributed to the best-selling book, Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement, a compilation of writing from the founders of March For Our Lives.
NOVEMBER 3 — “A First in the First State” with Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride
State Senator Sarah
McBride represents the First State Senate District in
northern Delaware. When she was elected in November 2020, she became the first openly transgender state senator in American history.
A lifelong community advocate, the Wilmington, Delaware, native has worked for former Governor Jack
Markell, the late Attorney General Beau Biden, and as a White House intern
during the Obama Administration. Most recently, she served as a spokesperson
for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ equal rights
McBride led the
successful effort to pass a landmark non-discrimination law in Delaware in 2013, worked
with state leaders to expand health care covered by Medicaid in 2014, and championed
legislation protecting vulnerable youth from child abuse in 2017. For her work and advocacy, former Gov.
Markell awarded McBride the Order of the First State, making her one of the
youngest Delawareans granted the state’s highest civilian honor.
As a state senator, McBride is committed to fighting for health care for all, strong public schools for every child, good paying jobs with real benefits for Delaware's families, and safe communities where each resident is treated with dignity.
McBride has taught public policy at the University of Delaware and is the author of the 2018 memoir, Tomorrow Will Be Different. Sarah married her late husband Andrew Cray in 2014 and is the proud aunt of Juliette, Theo, Bennett, Sydney, Ben and Addison.
NOVEMBER 17 — "The Power of Art" with Nikkolas Smith
a native of Houston, Texas, is an "artivist," children's book author, and a
Hollywood film illustrator. He is the illustrator of The
1619 Project: Born on the Water, a new children’s book written by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson (available
November 16). He
is the author/illustrator of The
Golden Girls of Rio (nominated for an NAACP Image Award) and My Hair Is
Poofy And That's Okay. As an
illustrator of color, Nikkolas is focused on creating captivating art that can
spark important conversations around social justice in today's world and
inspire meaningful change. Many of his viral sketches are included in his book Sunday Sketch: The Art of Nikkolas. His
works have been featured in TIME Magazine, the New York Times, the
Washington Post, CNN, Buzzfeed, the Academy of Motion Pictures, The
Guardian, ABC, NBC, KCET and many more. Nikkolas also speaks at
conferences, work places, and schools all over the country, and leads workshops
in digital painting, character and movie poster design. He lives in Los