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Video: Nancy Isenberg – White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College

Roosevelt House hosts a special evening featuring Nancy Isenberg, author of the groundbreaking bestseller White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, in conversation with Frank Rich, Writer-at-Large for New York Magazine, and Bill Goldstein, Public Programming Curator for Roosevelt House.

Isenberg, the T. Harry Williams Professor of history at Louisiana State University, has updated the paperback of White Trash to include updated reflections on the 2016 presidential election. As Isenberg and Rich will discuss, the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, from the earliest British colonial settlement to today’s hillbillies. Isenberg’s White Trash upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society – where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the nineteenth century, she argues; Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics, a widely popular movement that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and the Great Society. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the American identity.

Welcoming remarks by Roosevelt House Director Harold Holzer. Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, May 9, 2017.

Running time: 56 minutes

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the discussion.

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