On Tuesday, 5 December 2017, PPro hosted a fundraiser with Michael Signer ’95, who is the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, and a Virginia Democratic Party activist who worked on Barack Obama’s State Department Transition Team. He is the author of the recent Becoming Madison. He spoke on “The Case for (Cautious) Optimism from Virginia.” A report with pictures is below:
PPro was excited to be able to feature Michael Signer ’95, the mayor of Charlottesville, VA, as the headliner for its 5 December 2017 fundraiser. The enthusiastic reaction to the event (many calling it “fabulous”) just emphasized its success.
After a period of mingling, Signer spoke about what had happened at the ill-fated white nativist rally in August 2017, and more optimistically, about what positives he could see going on in Virginia and across the country. Some of what he said is repeated in an article in the 4 December 2017 issue of The New Yorker. Two of his more striking observations were these: that many Southern black leaders do not in fact want the Confederate war memorials to be removed, preferring to leave them as reminders of what earlier generations had to go through; and that much of the emotional, venting response to the presidency of Trump (like an issue of The New Yorker where every cartoon was about him) simply shows the extent to which we are in the control of this demagogue, whereas an effective response has to be embodied in civic action, and so recent election successes of Democratic candidates gave him some cause for cautious, or even steely, optimism. A brief question-and-answer period and more mingling brought the evening to a highly satisfying end.
Two noteworthy guests were undergraduates Alec Israeli and Chris Russo, part of the editorial staff at The Princeton Progressive, an undergraduate publication ensuring that progressive voices are heard on campus, and supported in part by PPro; information is available on the PPro website here. A wonderful coincidence is that Signer had himself worked on the same-named predecessor to this magazine while an undergraduate.
One striking feature of the event was the facility, a multi-purpose room which is part of the spectacular facilities at the prestigious law firm Gibson Dunn, in the heart of Manhattan. Alex Southwell ’93 deserved (and got) a hearty round of applause for his single-handed effort in obtaining this room, and the tasty food and drink, for us.
As noted above, this event was in fact a fundraiser, designed to provide PPro with the funds needed to support students’ participation in various progressive events. Even if you were unable to attend, please consider using this wonderful event as a prompt to make a donation yourself, which you can easily do here on the website.
photo credits: Noemi de la Puente, John Oakes