Past Event

One Person, One Vote? Reinventing Democracy

A desire for change is mobilizing record numbers of voters to participate in the primaries this presidential election season. A diverse, robust, and ever-changing population is asserting itself in the electoral process. But how democratic is the political process in this country? As a society, how can we understand and overcome the racialized nature of American citizenship? Who gets to vote, who doesn’t and why? And ultimately, how much do our votes really count?

Join us for a lively, critical conversation about these questions and an opportunity tochallenge ourselves to think, imagine, and act to revitalize and re-invent a more participatory democracy. This program is a part of The Public Square at the IHC’s “Looking for Democracy in ’08 and Beyond” series.

Free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made online, by e-mail at, or by calling 312.422.5580. Refreshments will be served.

“Louder than a Bomb” poets will open up this roundtable conversation featuring:

Martha Biondi (moderator) is a member of the Department of African American Studies with a courtesy joint appointment in the History Department. She specializes in 20th century African American history, with a focus on social movements, politics, ideology and protest. She is the author of To Stand and Fight: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City.

Bakari Kitwana is a journalist, activist and political analyst whose commentary on politics and youth culture have been seen on the CNN, FOX News (the O’Reilly Factor), C-Span, PBS (The Tavis Smiley Show) and heard on NPR. His 2002 book The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture, which focuses on young Blacks born after the Civil Rights Movement, has been adopted as a course book in classrooms at over 100 colleges and universities. The Executive Director of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop , which tours the nation conducting difficult dialogues facing the hip-hop generation, Kitwana published his first book, The Rap on Gangsta Rap , in 1994. Since then he’s been the Editorial Director of Third World Press, Executive Editor of the Source — the nation’s top-selling music magazine — and co-founder the first ever National Hip-Hop Political Convention, which brought over 4000 young people to Newark in 2004 to create and endorse a political agenda for the hip-hop generation. A consultant on hip-hop for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Kitwana is currently Artist in Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, where he teaches a course entitled “The Politics of the Hip-Hop Generation.”

Dan Johnson-Weinberger is the President of Progressive Public Affairs, a communications and policy development firm for people and organizations that want to improve the world and advocate for the national popular vote movement.

Theresa Amato, a Chicago lawyer, is the founder of the DuPage County-based Citizen Advocacy Center and has worked with several nonprofit organizations to build democracy, train citizen advocates, watchdog government and corporate power, and advance justice. In both 2000 and 2004, Amato served as the national presidential campaign manager for Ralph Nader, producing the highest vote count for a third-party progressive candidate in the last 80 years. In 2008, the New Press (New York) is publishing her book, Grand Illusion: The Fantasy of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, which examines the discrimination against third-parties and Independents in our flawed electoral system.

Alejandra Ibanez is the executive director of Pilsen Alliance, a non-profit grassroots community agency committed to preserving the historic cultural class identity of Pilsen by developing grassroots leadership and facilitating advocacy and organizing campaigns that promote self-determination, demand accountability, and build democracy.

This event will kick off our “Looking for Democracy” Postcard Project. Look for the Question Postcards available during the event for your opportunity to voice a burning question that should be at the forefront of America’s agenda this election season and beyond. All postcards will be on display at the Hyde Park Art Center until early fall. Speak up and be heard!

This program is presented in partnership with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Dropping Knowledge, DePaul University’s John J. Egan Urban Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Southwest Youth Collaborative, Contratiempo, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago, and Experimental Station.

Free. Open to the public. For more information, call 312.422.5580.