Washington Center

Black Lives Matter: Race, Policy, & Democratic Governance

Term or Semester: 
Day and Time: 
Thursdays, 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Quarter Dates: 
September 22 - December 1, 2022
Course Number: 
Quarter Elective

This course will examine race and ethnic politics through the lens of social movements, public policy, and democratic governance. The #BlackLivesMatter Movement was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer and engages us to utilize a human rights lens to combat racial injustice, inequality, racism, and white supremacy. We will use a human rights and democratic governance approach often used in a U.S. foreign policy context to reconceptualize our understanding of the lived experiences and quest for freedom, justice, and equality on part of African Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other groups. Given the racial and ethnic demographic shifts over the past two decades, particular attention will focus on race, representation, and racism from President Obama to President Trump with a central focus on the 2020 elections, voting rights, and the Biden Harris Administration. We will analyze democratic governance under the Trump administration, the ways in which President Trump has invoked identity politics and white nationalism in governance, and how this political context informs our understanding of representation in the Biden Administration Finally, you will learn the tactics of effective social movements/activism, civic engagement, data analysis, policy influence. There will be an applied component of this course and guest speakers will bring to life the theories and literature we read and review in class.

Past Syllabus

This class will be taught remotely via Zoom. 

About the Professor: Dr. Menna Demessie is currently Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the global Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC) for Universal Music Group. During the last decade, Dr. Demessie worked on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Barbara Lee, as the Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) and as an adjunct professor at the University of California Washington Center. At CBCF, she led the foundation’s research and policy initiatives affecting African Americans and the global black community in education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, and voting rights among many others. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Dr. Demessie established the National Racial Equity Initiative for Social Justice at the CBCF in an effort to raise awareness and inform public policy on criminal justice reform and social justice issues writ large. She has spearheaded several partnerships with the White House, Congress, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and other nonprofit stakeholders to advance strategic efforts to influence and inform public policy. Prior to joining the CBCF, Dr. Demessie was one of five scholars in the United States to receive the prestigious American Political Science Congressional Fellowship. For the fellowship, she joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s team to work on federal unemployment legislation, antipoverty initiatives, and foreign affairs in the 112th Congress. In August 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, appointed her as Secretary of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Advisory Council. As of August 2019, she has worked with her colleagues in raising $ 6.1 million dollars for socioeconomic development in Ethiopia. She was elected twice to serve on the Alumni Board for the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and is a proud Ohio native. She currently serves on the American Political Science Association Council and on Board of Trustees for her alma mater at Western Reserve Academy. She is a college basketball player and enjoys playing basketball and performing spoken word.

Course ID: