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.

Special Guest (via Skype): Donté Stallworth, former NFL player and CNN commentator 

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.

Special Guest: Nina Turner, President of Our Revolution & former Ohio State Senator

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

Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, will join us via Skype as we discuss the 50 years since 1968 when the country, as Tom Brokaw said, went…. “Boom." 

Special Guest (via Skype): Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King and CEO of The King Center.

Session 6 (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?

Special Guest: Donna Brazile, former Interim Chair of the DNC and veteran Democratic political strategist

Session 7 (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?

Special Guest: Cleveland Sellers, Bakari's father. During the Civil Rights movement, Cleveland Sellers was a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and was shot and wounded at the Orangeburg Massacre and served seven months in prison after being convicted of inciting to riot.