HKS Affiliated Authors

Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government


May 15, 2023, Audio: "The history of American democracy has always been fraught when it comes to race. Yet no matter how elusive it may be, Harvard Kennedy School professors Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Archon Fung say true multiracial democracy not only remains a worthy goal, but achieving it is critically important to our collective future. From the earliest, formative days of the American political experiment, the creation of laws and political structures was often less about achieving some Platonic ideal of the perfect democratic system than it was about finding tenuous compromises between people and groups who had very different beliefs and agendas when it came to the status of people of different races. Those tensions have been baked into our system ever since, and the history of the movement toward a true multiracial democracy in the United States has been marked with conflict, progress, reaction, and regression—from the 3/5’s Compromise to the Civil War to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights movement and on up to threats to democracy in our present day."