Join us at Roosevelt House for a special evening exploring the argument — and contemporary meaning — of The Declaration of Independence, the foundational statement of America’s commitment to equality. Danielle Allen, author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, discusses her acclaimed book in conversation with Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, and professor of law at New York Law School.
Troubled by the fact that so few Americans actually know what the Declaration says, Allen, a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study and a political philosopher widely known for her work on justice and citizenship, set out to explore the arguments of the Declaration, reading it with both adult night students and University of Chicago undergraduates. Keenly aware that the Declaration is riddled with contradictions – liberating some while subjugating slaves and Native Americans – Allen and her students nonetheless came to see that the Declaration makes a coherent and riveting argument about equality. They found a historical text that is an animating force that could and did transform the course of their everyday lives.
Junot Díaz praised Danielle Allen for laying “bare the Declaration’s history and significance, returning it to its true and rightful owners-you and me,” and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy called the book an “uncommonly elegant, incisive, and often poetic primer on America’s cardinal text” that illuminates the “three great themes of the Declaration: equality, liberty, and the abiding power of language.”
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