Kyla Sommers — When the Smoke Cleared: The 1968 Rebellions and the Unfinished Battle for Civil Rights in the Nation's Capital - with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood — at Conn Ave

Upcoming Event
Wednesday, April 26, 2023 - 7:00pm

In April 1968, following the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., a wave of uprisings swept across America. None was more visible--or resulted in more property damage, arrests, or federal troop involvement--than in Washington, DC, where thousands took to the streets in protest against racial inequality, looting and burning businesses in the process. The nation's capital was shaken to its foundations. 

When the Smoke Cleared tells the story of the Washingtonians who seized the moment to rebuild a more just society, one that would protect and foster Black political and economic power. A riveting account of activism, urban reimagination, and political transformation, Kyla Sommers's revealing and deeply researched narrative is ultimately a tale of blowback, as the Nixon administration and its allies in Congress thwarted the ambitions of DC's reformers, opposing civil rights reforms and self-governance. And nationwide, conservative politicians used the specter of crime in the capital to roll back the civil rights movement and create the modern carceral state.

A vital chapter in the struggle for racial equality, When the Smoke Cleared is an account of open wounds, paths not taken, and their unforeseen consequences--revealed here in all of their contemporary significance.

Kyla Sommers earned her PhD in history from the George Washington University. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Washington History journal, and the book Demand the Impossible: Essays in History as Activism. Sommers is the digital engagement editor at American Oversight and was previously the editor-in-chief of the History News Network. The author of When the Smoke Cleared (The New Press), she lives in Washington, DC.

Kojo Nnamdi is host of The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi, a live talk show produced by WAMU that airs Fridays at noon. Nnamdi joined WAMU in 1998 to host Public Interest (formerly known as The Derek McGinty Show). In 2002, the show was renamed as The Kojo Nnamdi Show, which he hosted until the show ended in April 2021. A longtime D.C. resident, Nnamdi emigrated to the United States in 1968 to attend college and explore the civil rights movement. From 1985 to 2011, he hosted Evening Exchange, a public affairs television program broadcast by WHUT-TV at Howard University. From 1973 to 1985, Nnamdi worked at WHUR-FM, where he served as news editor and then news director, producing the award-winning local news program The Daily Drum. In addition to his hosting duties, Nnamdi continues to moderate Kojo in Our Community events with WAMU and has chaired the board of the Public Access Corporation of Washington, D.C., since 1997. He is also active in Guyaid, an organization devoted to the welfare of children in Guyana. Nnamdi served on the Board of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center from 2003-2008. A proud nationalized American citizen for more than 20 years, his passions include cricket, Caribbean Carnival, poetry, jazz and jogging.

Tom Sherwood is the resident analyst for The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi and a contributing writer for Washington City Paper.

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This event is free with first come, first served seating.

5015 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
Non Fiction
When the Smoke Cleared: The 1968 Rebellions and the Unfinished Battle for Civil Rights in the Nation's Capital By Kyla Sommers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620977477
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New Press - April 25th, 2023