The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story

From the Michael Cromartie 2024 Forum in Washington, DC

Kermit Roosevelt,

Peter Wehner,

Asma Uddin,

This session will explore key themes and arguments from University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt’s recent book, The Nation That Never Was. Our speakers will discuss with participating journalists the argument that Americans’ perception of our founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all is fundamentally flawed. Of course, updating the historical record does not mean this vision cannot be realized by Americans today, as we strive toward a more perfect union. But for journalists, historians, and all of us, crucial questions remain: What is the power and import of narrative? Why do we gravitate to certain versions of the narrative, often blending idealism and a deep desire to carve out a positive, protected role for ourselves? When we look to Lincoln, MLK, Malcolm X, or other notable figures, what is to be done when we discover daylight between common public convictions and the more detailed historical record? Looking at the American founding and at the civil rights era, these opening sessions will focus on the unique role of journalists as storytellers who can bring light amidst these tensions. 

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The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story

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