‘Democracy Awakening’ author Heather Cox Richardson to speak

What is the current state of our democracy? How did we get here? And what we can do to take our country back?

Heather Cox Richardson, author of “Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America,” will answer these questions and more at a special event — hosted by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis — from 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, in Graham Chapel on the Danforth Campus. Richardson will be joined by Laurie Maffly-Kipp, the Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics at WashU.


Organizers said they have seen an enthusiastic response to this event. Because RSVPs exceed the capacity of all three venues, Graham Chapel and the overflow spaces in the Danforth University Center’s Tisch Commons and the Women’s Building Formal Lounge, seats are not guaranteed, even with an RSVP.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early and have patience. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Attendees may choose any of the spaces for the event. When Graham Chapel is full, staff will direct guests to the overflow spaces. If they reach capacity, additional guests won’t be admitted to ensure everyone’s safety.

The discussion also will be livestreamed on Zoom; register here for access.  

In the midst of the 2019 impeachment crisis, Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College, began writing a daily Facebook essay, providing historical context for the daily churn of news. It soon became a chart-topping Substack newsletter, “Letters from an American,” which now has over 2 million dedicated subscribers who rely on Richardson’s plainspoken, insightful take on America, past and present.

In her new book, Richardson writes that a small group of wealthy people have made war on American ideals, leading the country down a dangerous path to authoritarianism. By promoting a false history, she argues, they have created a disaffected population and promised to recreate an imagined past where those people could feel important again.

Richardson argues that taking the country back starts by remembering elements of the nation’s true history that marginalized Americans have always upheld, which has sustained democracy in the past and can be a road map for the future. 

Following the discussion, attendees are invited to attend a reception with the speaker. Local independent bookseller Left Bank Books also will be on hand with copies of Richardson’s book available for purchase. The receptions have no formal program, and when the venues reach capacity, they will not admit additional guests. Staff will be on hand to provide directions for all spaces.

Visitor parking is available on the fourth level of Millbrook Garage or in the DUC garage. Parking is free in yellow spaces after 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information on parking, visit the parking website.

Call 314-935-9345 or email rap@wustl.edu with questions or accommodation requests.

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