The Hart Leadership Program concluded its 2018-2019 Connect2Politics speaker series after six exciting events.
Connect2Politics promotes student engagement with critical political issues and actors by hosting intimate gatherings with political practitioners of all types and stripes. Although past C2P events have focused on elected leaders, this year’s series sought to shine a spotlight on how young leaders are engaging with some of America’s most intractable problems.
In September, Kathy Tran, Trinity ’00, spoke to students about her journey to elected office. Tran is an alum of the SOL program and in 2017 became the first Asian American woman elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates.
The next month, HLP hosted a panel discussion about student voting rights featuring: North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls, Sari Kaufman, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting and voting activist, and Symonne Singleton, a 2017 graduate who was disenfranchised in the 2014 mid-term elections. The following day, HLP put on the same panel at North Carolina Central University.
HLP’s final event of 2018, titled “Dreamers and Deportations,” focused on the experiences of young undocumented immigrants to the U.S. whose lives were changed drastically after they were deported. The event’s speakers were Maggie Loredo, founder of an organization that helps those who have been deported to Mexico; Adriana Figueroa, who immigrated to the United States at age 5 and returned to Mexico when she was 18; and junior Axel Herrera, a Dreamer and founder of the Duke chapter of Define American.
HLP started 2019 with an event focusing on a local conflict: what to do about Durham’s Confederate monument. In the wake of the statue being town down by protestors in 2017, local leaders set up a commission to engage the public in a collaborative process to make recommendations about its future. HLP invited the co-chairs of the commission, Robin Kirk and Charmaine McKissick-Melton, along with assistant professor of public policy Deondra Rose to reflect on their experiences and the report.
In February, HLP collaborated with several student organizers who wanted to answer the question “What does organizing and activism look like without an immediate electoral context?” The ensuing event was hosted by Vann Newkirk II, a staff writer for The Atlantic, whose reporting has grappled with that question. Newkirk interviewed senior Mumbi Kanyogo, Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry, and professor of public policy Don Taylor, Jr.
The semester’s events concluded with a conversation about bridging the urban-rural divide, featuring Jacob Bachmeier, a member of the Montana legislature who was elected at age 18, Kate Fellman, the founder of You Can Vote, and senior Rachel Rubin. The panelists discussed the complexities, and opportunities, that come from working in rural areas.
Stay tuned for information about next year’s C2P events.