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True South: Reclaiming Southern History & Narrative: Building Inclusive Democracy

“A thriving South is not just a South of opportunity, it’s a South of possibility. We need more than empty promises of ‘opportunity.’ We need possibilities that extend toward the galaxies we ultimately want to inhabit.”

These words from MDC President John Simpkins served as a launching point for True South, MDC’s 2022-23 programmatic series that explores how—and if—Southerners are reckoning with the current era of economic, social, and environmental upheaval. The series is a reimagining of MDC’s State of the South reports, which have provided a valuable resource for Southern policymakers and practitioners for over 25 years.

True South kicked off in October 2022 with an evening of arts and dialogue at the historic Hayti Heritage Center in MDC’s home community of Durham, North Carolina. Through words, both spoken and sung, North Carolina artists provided a critical look at the role the arts play in advancing racial and economic justice in the South. This set the stage for the next day’s convening at NC Central University, which drew over 100 people from nonprofits, philanthropy, government, business, and community who were charged with first looking backward in order to move forward.

Building an Inclusive Democracy: Increasing access to and accountability within our political systems

How can we ensure communities are inspired to vote? What protections need to be in place to ensure they have unobstructed access? How can we ensure elected leaders represent the needs of communities?

  • Rev. Dr. Jay Augustine (he/him), Senior Pastor, St. Joseph AME Church/General Chaplain, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
  • Irene Godinez (she/her), Executive Director, Poder NC
  • Moderator: Chris Kromm (he/him), Executive Director, Institute for Southern Studies

For more on the event/series:

Published: Apr 16, 2023

Topics: Southern Culture & Narrative, The South