Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Reflecting on Race and Political Division in Pandemic America with Yohuru Williams

Air Dates: October 10-16, 2022

The evidence is overwhelming: the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color was out of proportion to the size of those communities in the overall American population. Dr. Yohuru Williams is among a group of scholars whose new book argues the experience with COVID is consistent with other difficult experiences in American history.

Williams is an accomplished writer, Distinguished University Chair, Professor of History and founding Director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas. His published works include “Black Politics/White Power: Civil Rights Black Power and Black Panthers in New Haven,” “Rethinking the Black Freedom Movement” and “Teaching beyond the Textbook: Six Investigative Strategies.” Along with his published books, Williams has had scholarly articles printed in the American Bar Association’s “Insights on Law and Society,” “The Black Scholar,” “The Black History Bulletin” and several other journals. Williams has also made television appearances in PBS documentaries like Ken Burns’ “Jackie Robinson” and Stanley Nelson’s “The Black Panthers” and as one of the hosts of “Sound Smart” on the History Channel. He has also served as a general editor on several projects, including “The Color Line Revisited,” “The Souls of Black Folks: Centennial Reflections” and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s 2002 and 2003 Black History Month publications. Williams’ newest project is “After Life: A Collective History of Loss and Redemption in Pandemic America,” of which he is a contributor and co-editor.

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Williams discusses “After Life,” diving into the discourse surrounding the pandemic, political unrest, and racism that the United States is currently grappling with. Specifically highlighting the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on communities of color, the political polarization of this country, and the shared experience of coming to terms with mortality and grief. Williams discusses a hope to begin a period of reconstruction in the United States but stresses, “It’s hard for people to see a way forward when they haven’t had an opportunity to properly grieve.”

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m. ET, and Sundays at 2:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

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