Bakari Sellers on “The Progressive Movement within the Democratic Party & the Politics of the South”

Bakari Seller's seminars will be held on Mondays at 3:30pm.

All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


In these seminars we will take top-line political talking points and delve deeper into their meaning and real world application. We will have an honest dialogue about the state of our country in Trump’s America.  Further, we will look at how Democrats in predominantly red states, particularly in the South, can rebrand, refocus, and remessage to grow and win hearts, minds and votes.

Additional guests TBA.

Session 1 (October 2): The History of the Progressive Movement | RSVP

In this seminar we will explore the intersection of the Civil Rights movement and the Democratic politics of the 1960s, and their application to today.  The groundbreaking legislative accomplishments of the ‘60s, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, came with great costs.  We will go through the last 50 years since Dr. King’s death and attempt to answer: how far have we come and where do we go from here?

Session 2 (October 9): The Politics of identity | RSVP

The Democratic Party is at a crossroads.  A segment of the party wants to move away from identity politics to a message that they would argue is more universal while ignoring the base of the Party.  In a recent Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic article entitled, The First White President, he explores this juxtaposition and responds to Mark Lilla’s New York Times essay The End of Identity Liberalism. Coates wrote: “The name Barack Obama does not appear in Lilla’s essay, and he never attempts to grapple, one way or another, with the fact that it was identity politics—the possibility of the first black president—that brought a record number of black voters to the polls, winning the election for the Democratic Party, and thus enabling the deliverance of the ancient liberal goal of national health care. ““Identity politics … is largely expressive, not persuasive,”” Lilla claims. “Which is why it never wins elections—but can lose them.”  That Trump ran and won on identity politics is beyond Lilla’s powers of conception. What appeals to the white working class is ennobled. What appeals to black workers, and all others outside the tribe, is dastardly identitarianism. All politics are identity politics—except the politics of white people, the politics of the bloody heirloom.” This is the central question of the New Democratic party.

Session 3 (October 16): The New Progressive Movement | RSVP

We will learn the inner workings and thoughts of the Bernie Sanders wing of the party and discuss the future of the Democratic Party as they see it.  Serving inWith a guest from Sen. Sanders’ kitchen cabinet and former Chair of the California Dem Party this dialogue should be interesting as this New Progressive Movement has yet to win many converts in the deep South, and we will explore the reasons why.

Session 4 (October 23): New Players, New Movements … BLM and beyond | RSVP

Unquestionably Black Lives Matter has been an amazing force in the movement for social justice.  Bastardized by the right, criticized by an older generation freedom fighters, and now stuck in a crossroads of becoming an organization that can eaffectuate real policy change. We will explore this exciting journey in new age freedom-fighting and how it is adjusting to the Trump era.

Session 5 (October 30): Changing the Politics of the South | RSVP

This seminar will allow University of Chicago students to interact with one former and one current governor of two major Southern States – South Carolina (Hodges) and Virginia (McAuliffe) .  Topics will range from the intersection of race and southern politics, specifically controversy surrounding the Confederate Flag, removal of confederate monuments, and Charlottesville, as well as the question: what does a governing Southern Democrat look like?  

Special Guests: Govs. Terry McAuliffe and Jim Hodges

Session 6 (November 6): The Movement then to now, 50 years later | RSVP

My father will come to join us as we discuss the 50 years since 1968 when the country as Tom Brokaw said, went…. “Boom”.  We will also discuss his time in the movement, working for SNCC, evading the draft (and going to prison), knowing King and Malcolm, getting wounded and imprisoned in the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre, and what he sees now in this age of Trump.

Special Guest: Cleveland Sellers

Session 7 (November 13): The New Movement and the New Media | RSVP

This seminar will explore the campaigns and the role of the media and WTF happened in 2016.  What tensions were exposed?  What lessons were learned?  Will the future be any different?

Session 8 (November 20): The Path Forward | RSVP

We will end this series with a robust discussion about the path forward.  What does the future of the Democrat party look like.  Will it continue to be a party that’s success is dependent upon a personality or can we create a sustained movement from the ground up? How do we rebrand our party, and even more importantly heal our nation?