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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

150 Years Later, America Has A Second Chance At Reconstruction

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Adam Serwer argues in The Atlantic that America has its best opportunity in 150 years to fulfill its promise as a multiracial democracy.

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A nation that’s been battered by a national crisis. Americans struggling to make ends meet. Political tensions high. Many people want things to go back to normal. Others are ready to embrace a new and more equitable American paradigm.

Sound familiar?

These moments when much of the county awakens to the realities of racism and what it means for people who aren’t white are few and far between.” — Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

Life amid a pandemic, calls for an end to police brutality, systemic racism and ever mounting political tensions may feel new to us. But Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer says we’ve been here before —150 years ago during the Reconstruction period following the U.S. Civil War.

Listen: The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer argues that America has a rare opportunity to fulfill its promise as a multiracial democracy.


Adam Serwer is a staff writer with The Atlantic. He recently wrote a piece titled “The New Reconstruction.” It takes a critical look at what we could learn today from looking back at the post-Civil War Reconstruction period.

These moments when much of the county awakens to the realities of racism and what it means for people who aren’t white are few and far between,” Serwer tells Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today. But he notes that those opportunities are missed, in part because even the most progressive lawmakers fail to embrace policies that would create real change.

The professed belief in racial equality does not always translate into support for policies that will address racial inequalities,” he says.

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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