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March 15, 2021 RAPID RESPONSE

Speaking Truth to Power: The Fragility of Democracy and the Role of Attorneys in Upholding the Constitution

Based on historian Jon Meacham’s bestseller, the 2020 HBO documentary The Soul of America explores pivotal historical events when demagoguery, conspiracy theories and “alternative facts” spoke the loudest to justify slavery, Jim Crow laws, a culture of white supremacy, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism and other dark chapters of the nation’s history. The film recognizes forces of hatred and division as recurring themes in American life, but ultimately gives hope that the lessons of the past may bring the nation closer to achieving its democratic ideals.

We are at another pivotal moment in history, similar to those before. We remain in a period of racial reckoning in which many harbor unfounded stereotypes that cast entire communities of color, immigrants, and religious minorities as dangerous threats to our country. Millions of voters continue to believe that the presidential election was stolen despite evidence to the contrary. And elected leaders continue to fuel this narrative even after the U.S. Capitol was stormed in a failed insurrection to overturn the elections.

The panel discusses the role that lawyers play in supporting the Constitution and the cause of truth, and the dire consequences to democracy, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law when they ignore it.

A free screening of the HBO documentary, The Soul of America, was available from March 11-18, 2021.


  • KD Davison, Director, The Soul of America
  • Charlie Dent, Executive Director, Congressional Program, Aspen Institute; Former U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District 
  • Dale Minami, Senior Counsel, Minami Tamaki LLP; 2019 ABA Medal Recipient


  • Mary L. Smith, Vice Chair, VENG Group; Chair, Caroline and Ora Smith Foundation

Joint Sponsor: Stop Repeating History

Co-Sponsors: ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities, ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, ABA Judicial DivisionABA Section of Litigation


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