The Truth Series: How We Got Here

In July 2020, E Pluribus Unum kicked off its multi-part conversation series with “truth” and our history. In the first five conversations (called the Truth Series), our speakers helped us begin to understand how we have gotten to where we are on criminal justice, health equity, economic opportunity, and democracy.

If you missed any of the Truth Series conversations, you can find them below.

Episode 1 – The Price We Have Paid

July 9, 2020

In this first conversation, historians and experts explore the “truth” in our history. They discuss some of the periods and events in our history that have laid the foundation for the systems that continue to perpetuate racism and oppress people of color in the U.S, including the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era.

Episode 2 – Criminal Justice

July 16, 2020

The brutal death of George Floyd has rightly trained our eyes on systemic racism and bias in our criminal justice system, as well as the long history of law enforcement’s excessive use of force, which has most often been used to oppress Black Americans in this country. Further, the United States incarcerates a greater share of its population than any other nation in the world, with a disproportionate impact on Black families. Throughout our history, policing and incarceration have been weaponized to oppress Black Americans and other communities resulting in disparate levels of freedom and equality. In this conversation, our panelists explore how we got here–from the “slave patrol” through Jim Crow-era policies to policing’s evolution over the last few decades.

Episode 3 – Health Equity

July 23, 2020

For this conversation on health equity, the panelists focus on the roots of racism in medicine in the US–that is, the false notion of a biological basis for race–and the way that has shaped the profound racism and anti-Blackness in American medicine. The conversation explores the lasting impacts of incidents like the Tuskegee Syphilis study, forced sterilization, and other aspects of the racism and abuses the Black community has endured in the practice of medicine for generations.

Episode 4 – Economic Equity

July 30, 2020

This conversation provides a historical look at the many institutions that have actively created systems that disenfranchise Black Americans and denied them the ability to build generational wealth. Exploring the conscious efforts to slow economic growth in Black communities, the panelists examine the lasting impacts of incidents like the Tulsa Race Massacre, Seneca Village, and the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898–all of which displaced and destroyed thriving Black communities.

Episode 5 – Democracy

August 6, 2020

The promise of America is that we all come to the table of democracy as equals. But our democracy is in crisis. Long before the coronavirus pandemic, laws and processes have been in place to disenfranchise many Americans from exercising their right to vote. How did we get here? Our panelists take a historical look at the countless measures that have been enacted to disenfranchise Black Americans from full participation in American democracy. They explore measures like poll taxes, purges of registered voters, and polling location closures. They also discuss why it was challenging to get accurate census counts among low-income communities, in particular communities of color and households with young children.