American Democracy Lab

Episode 3: Race and Democracy


Voting rights legislation recently enacted in Georgia and elsewhere across the country, and the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, each provides critical frames to explore issues of race, power, and privilege in our democracy. This episode tackles questions related to race in our democracy surrounding these events, including:

  • What is the legacy of racial violence in our electoral politics?
  • What would it take for all people to feel like they’re part of our democracy?

Our Guests

Dr. David Cunningham is the Department Chair and Professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. His research, focused on racial contention and its legacies, has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. Professor Cunningham’s past work centers on the Ku Klux Klan, in particular the complex roles that the KKK played in various communities throughout the 1960s and its enduring impacts on contemporary voting patterns and crime rates.

Dr. Geoff Ward is a Professor of African and African-American Studies and faculty affiliate in the Department of Sociology and American Culture Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Ward’s scholarship examines the haunting legacies of historical racial violence and implications for redress.

About American Democracy Lab

 The American Democracy Lab podcast at WashU brings together experts from different fields and backgrounds to talk about an issue or aspect of our American democracy and where different perspectives may converge.

Launched on Presidents’ Day 2021, the American Democracy Lab podcast is hosted by Associate Professor Alan Lambert and presented by the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement in partnership with WashU Engage and the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences.


Additional Episodes of American Democracy Lab

Episode 6: The Legacy of January 6, 2021 (Part 2)

Episode 6: The Legacy of January 6, 2021 (Part 2)

In part two of our conversation revisiting the insurrection at the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, guests Richard Gephardt and Zach Wamp discuss the history of elections in the United States and identify potential reforms that could increase trust in the system. They offer their advice to current members of Congress on how to bridge the widening gap between Republicans and Democrats to restore faith in our democracy.
Episode 6: The Legacy of January 6, 2021 (Part 1)

Episode 6: The Legacy of January 6, 2021 (Part 1)

Our guests, the Honorable Richard ‘Dick’ Gephardt and Zach Wamp, spent much of their careers working inside the Capitol building as members of the US House of Representatives. In this conversation, they reflect on January 6th, recounting where they were when they first heard about the attack, what the legacy of January 6th represents for our democracy, and where we as a nation go from here.

Episode 5: Influencing Democracy

How do we build trust among Americans who have turned their back on the truth? How can we heal the deep divisions in our country? Host Alan Lambert welcomes author, lecturer, and journalist Anne Nelson to discuss the eroding trust in our democracy through a conversation about influence and information, an exploration of the Council […]

Episode 4: Fueling our Democracy

The fate of our democracy is increasingly entwined in the systems that govern and guide our economy, culture, environment, and more. Guest Nate Hagens and host Alan Lambert discuss big questions, including: How is energy related to climate change and what does this imply about future? Why are climate and energy issues so important to […]

Episode 3: Race and Democracy

Voting rights legislation recently enacted in Georgia and elsewhere across the country, and the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, each provides critical frames to explore issues of race, power, and privilege in our democracy. This episode tackles questions related to race in our democracy surrounding these events, including: What is the legacy […]