When the Stars Begin to Fall makes a compelling, ambitious case for a pathway to the national solidarity necessary to mitigate racism. Weaving memories of his own and his family’s multi-generational experiences with racism, alongside strands of history, into his elegant narrative, Johnson posits that a blueprint for national solidarity can be found in the exceptional citizenship long practiced in Black America. Understanding that racism is a structural crime of the state, he argues that overcoming it requires us to recognize that a color-conscious society—not a color-blind one—is the true fulfillment of the American Promise.
Fueled by Johnson’s ultimate faith in the American project, grounded in his family’s longstanding optimism and his own military service, When the Stars Begin to Fall is an urgent call to undertake the process of overcoming what has long seemed intractable.
This event is produced in partnership with Politics and Prose.
Theodore R. Johnson is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Fellows Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, where he undertakes research on race, politics, and American identity. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, he was a National Fellow at New America and a Commander in the United States Navy, serving for twenty years in a variety of positions, including as a White House Fellow in the first Obama administration and as speechwriter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His work on race relations has appeared in prominent national publications across the political spectrum, including the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and National Review, among others.
Johnson will be in conversation with political strategist, activist, and commentator Karen Finney. She’s a leading Democratic strategist and political commentator for CNN, and an independent consultant working with political and corporate clients on crisis communications, branding, public affairs, polling and strategy. She was a Senior Advisor to Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign, the Democratic National Committee and AL Media in the 2018 election cycle. Finney served as Senior Advisor for Communications and Political Outreach and Senior Spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.