New American Dream: Democracy That Doesn’t Flinch

Brian Tate | April 8, 2021

Above: Press the play button to livestream the April 28 town hall event DEMOCRACY THAT DOESN’T FLINCH: Inside Campaigns to Build and Diversify Political Power, 5-6:30 p.m. ET.

DEMOCRACY THAT DOESN’T FLINCH: Inside Campaigns to Build and Diversify Political Power was a discussion with five leaders whose work strengthens political clout for their communities and voting rights for all Americans.

A conversation with Christine Chen, Maria Teresa Kumar, Afaf Nasher, Esq., Kimberly Peeler-Allen, and Allie Young (Diné). Moderated by Brian Tate. Opening performance by Danny Simmons, Jr.

Date: Wednesday, April 28, 5-6:30 p.m. ET

How are historically disenfranchised communities winning new political power and standing up to structural racism? What lessons do they offer in the fight for democracy? Join us for a conversation with five leaders whose work increases political clout and voting rights for their communities, and equality for all Americans.


Democracy That Doesn’t Flinch was the first of five events of the NEW AMERICAN DREAM series, presented by The WNET Group – parent to America’s flagship PBS station – between April 28 and May 26, 2021.

NEW AMERICAN DREAM is the second series of virtual town halls that examine major issues affecting diverse communities throughout the New York City area and across the United States. The first series was Criminal Justice in America.

Each week, The WNET Group will examine systemic racism in relation to five pillars of contemporary society: voting rights, artificial intelligence and genetic data, journalism, antiracism, and cultural narratives. Our focus is on strategies and solidarity, with an understanding of history and eyes toward the future.

Curated by Brian Tate, community partnerships specialist for The WNET Group.
Photo: Erin Hammond | Model: Jameelah Nuriddin

For NEW AMERICAN DREAM mobile reminders, text WNETDEI to 30644.
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About the Panelists

Christine Chen is the founding executive director of APIAVote, a national nonprofit that mobilizes Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans in electoral and civic processes. She has organized around such issues as immigration, affirmative action, voting rights, the census, hate crimes, racial bias, and racist media coverage for more than 25 years. Hailed by Newsweek as one of 15 women who will shape America’s new century, she is considered one of the strongest voices in the APIA community.

María Teresa Kumar is the founding CEO of Voto Latino and the Voto Latino Foundation, and an Emmy-nominated on-air analyst for MSNBC. As the largest Latinx voter registration and mobilization organization in the U.S., Voto Latino plays a decisive role in American elections and is a major voice countering disinformation in the Latino community. She is dedicated to engaging the public around democracy and human rights, and Voto Latino has garnered numerous awards under her leadership.

Afaf Nasher is the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-NY, the local chapter of America’s premier Muslim civil rights group. Her work stems from a drive to challenge discrimination in all its forms, promote activism, and foster an understanding of Muslim American identity. CAIR’s New York branch is one of the busiest of its 35 national affiliates, working to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, and empower nearly one million Muslims in the New York area.

Kimberly Peeler-Allen has worked at the intersection of race, gender, and politics for more than 20 years. She is the co-founder of Higher Heights for America, the leading national organization dedicated to building Black women’s collective political power from the voting booth to elected office. She is board chair of the ERA Coalition, co-chair of the Higher Heights for America PAC, and a visiting practitioner at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Learn more: Kimberly Peeler-Allen.

Allie Young (Diné) is a storyteller and writer working to increase authentic representation of Native Americans in TV, film, and popular media in a world where her people’s stories are largely invisible or misrepresented. She is the founder and director of Protect the Sacred, a grassroots organization that helps empower the next generation of Navajo and Indian Country leaders and protect tribal nations from Covid-19. In 2020, she led voter registration and census efforts throughout Indian Country.

Moderator: Brian Tate has built projects at the nexus of culture and ideas for more than 20 years, and he is expert at convening fearless thinkers for discussions of ethics, politics, and the future. He is guided by the example of his parents, Charles and Florence Tate, brilliant civil rights activists who espoused selfless action to drive social change. He is the founder of Tate Strategy and the community partnerships specialist for WNET.


Performer Danny Simmons, Jr.

OPENING PERFORMANCE: Painter, poet, and philanthropist Danny Simmons, Jr. is a cultural force. He is co-founder and vice chair of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which creates opportunities for marginalized artists and youth, and co-creator of the Emmy-and-Tony-winning Def Poetry Jam. His paintings are exhibited across the globe, and in 2019, Blue Note released his spoken word collaboration with jazz icon Ron Carter, The Brown Beatnik Tomes, to rave reviews.


Curated Playlist

And She Could Be Next: And She Could Be Next follows a defiant movement led by women of color as they fight for a truly reflective democracy and transform politics from the ground up. A co-production of POV and ITVS. 
Why Voter Suppression Continues: This PBS Newshour America, Interrupted podcast episode explores restrictive voter registration rules, limited access to polling places and early voting options, and challenges for voters when casting their ballots. In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, people seeking safer ways to vote are instead finding hurdles.
Louisiana Diary: This film, available on THIRTEEN Passport, follows the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) from July to August 1963, as they undertake an African American voter registration drive in the town of Plaquemine, Louisiana (Iberville Parish).

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