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Short Talks, Big Ideas: Radical Notions of Democracy

Great Hall
$15 ($12/members)
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Ideas big enough to shape a nation; itty-bitty presentations.

Join TV host and comedian Adam Conover for an evening of fast-paced talks and performances exploring the ideas behind the big conversations in our communities today. Inspired by the US Constitution and our free exhibition We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy, we’ve invited eight speakers to each take a turn sharing their diverse perspectives on the relevancy of the nation’s founding principles to today’s challenges—all in just 15 minutes. Civic dialogue for the TEDx age, there’s no better way to kick off Constitution Weekend.



Adam Conover
Adam Conover

Tickets are $15 ($12 for members), reserve your spot online or by calling Guest Services at (479) 657-2335 today.


About Constitution Weekend

What does the Constitution mean to you? On September 16 and 17, we invite you to join artists, scholars, and civic organizations for a weekend commemorating the enduring impact of our nation’s founding documents with artmaking, conversation, performances, and more. See the full weekend lineup to learn more.

About the Speakers

Adam Conover

Adam Conover is a comedian and the creator, writer, and star of the hit series Adam Ruins Everything, an educational comedy that dispels common misconceptions. The New York Times calls it “one of history’s most entertaining shows dedicated to the art of debunking” and refers to Adam as a “genial provocateur.” On YouTube, his videos have amassed millions of views.

In 2022, his new series The G Word is premiering on Netflix. Produced in partnership with Barack Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, it pulls the curtain back on how the federal government works using comedy and documentary storytelling.

Conover was also the host of the Nickelodeon game show The Crystal Maze and recurs on the animated series Bojack Horseman and Tuca And Bertie.

As a standup comedian, Adam performs regularly in top comedy clubs and colleges across the country.


Joyce Elliott

Joyce Elliott

Joyce Elliott is a native Arkansan. At an age far too early, she became aware of the savage inequalities of life in the South, which played a major role in her becoming a high school English/speech communication teacher for 30 years. She knew by age 10 political service would be a major part of her life.

She is a term-limited member of the Arkansas House of Representative and a current member of the Senate. In the legislature, she focuses on building world-class public education systems, socioeconomic justice, criminal justice reform and equity, pursuit of a high quality of life for marginalized populations, and creation of a Oneness across lines of separation among Arkansans and beyond.

From early childhood, she has borne witness to disenfranchisement, leaving indelible mental mappings of “what should not be,” especially at the ballot box. In December 2021, Joyce launched Get Loud Arkansas, a nonpartisan civic engagement organization whose year-round work is committed to registering, educating, and mobilizing eligible Arkansans to the polls.

Away from it all, Elliott enjoys traveling, hiking, whitewater rafting, and jumping off high stuff. Adrenaline? Yes!


Abdul El-Sayed

Abdul El-Sayed

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, educator, author, speaker, and podcast host. His newsletter, The Incision, cuts into the trends shaping our moment. He is a commentator at CNN. His three books include Healing Politics, calling for a politics of empathy to cure our epidemic of insecurity, and Medicare for All: A Citizen’s Guide with Dr. Micah Johnson, offering a no-nonsense guide to the policy. He is the host of America Dissected, a podcast by Crooked Media, which goes beyond the headlines to explore what really matters for our health. He is a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Senior Fellow at the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, teaching at the intersection of public health, public policy, and politics. In addition, he is a Scholar in Residence at Wayne State University and American University. He previously served as a Sanders appointee and one of eight members of Vice President Biden’s 2020 Unity Task Force for Healthcare.

Abdul earned a doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He also holds a medical degree from Columbia University where he was an NIH-funded Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow and Soros New Americans Fellow. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Highest Distinction from the University of Michigan, where he was chosen to deliver the student remarks alongside President Bill Clinton and was awarded the Bicentennial Alumni Award in 2017. He is a native Michigander who was born and raised in metro Detroit, where he lives with his wife Sarah, a psychiatrist, and daughter Emmalee. He is a proud member of the National Writers Union, AFT Local 477 and 6244, SEIU Local 500, and the AAUP. He enjoys good people, good coffee, good food, and University of Michigan football.


Julian Saporiti

Julian Saporiti

Dr. Julian Saporiti is a Vietnamese Italian American songwriter and scholar born in Nashville, Tennessee. His multi-media work No-No Boy has transformed his PhD research on Asian American history into concerts, albums, and films which have reached a broad and diverse public audience. His latest album 1975 released through Smithsonian Folkways has been hailed by NPR as “one of the most insurgent pieces of music you’ll ever hear” which “re-examines Americana with devastating effect” and American Songwriter called it “insanely listenable and gorgeous.” By using art to dive into highly divisive issues such as race, refugees, and immigration, Saporiti aims to allow audience members to sit with complication as music and visuals open doorways to difficult histories.

Saporiti currently lives in Portland, Oregon. As a teacher, he has taught courses in songwriting, music, literature, history, Asian American Studies, and ethnic studies at the University of Wyoming, Colorado College, Brown University, and has served as artist/scholar in residence at many universities and high schools across the country. Saporiti holds degrees from Berklee College of Music, University of Wyoming, and Brown University and has been commissioned by cultural institutions such as Lincoln Center, the LA Philharmonic, the National Parks, and Carnegie Hall.


Najja K. Baptist

Najja K. Baptist

Dr. Najja K. Baptist is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. He earned his doctorate in political science from Howard University, and his work has appeared in numerous journals, such as National Political Science Review; Journal of Race and Ethnicity; Politics, Groups, and Identities; and other outlets. Dr. Baptist’s work is primarily focused on Black politics, social movements, culture, political behavior, public opinion, and mass media in the United States. His project examines how the current president engages with Congress members, specifically Southern Congressional Black Caucus women of color. He is also a two-time NSF grant awardee. His forthcoming book is entitled In the Spirit, In the Dark: Black Music and Activism.


Osyrus Bolly

Osyrus Bolly

Osyrus Bolly is an artist/activist who combines his passion for the arts and social justice to create his own platform framed as Liberation Arts. Osyrus Bolly has shared stages with artists such as Big Boi of OutKast, Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Jessica Care Moore, Bilal, Devin The Dude, and Sunni Patterson. He is a founding member of nationally-ranked poetry slam troupe Foreign Tongues. In 2018 he released his hip-hop single “Happy Black Girl”, an ode to Black women with natural hair, and was awarded the ML Magazine 2018 Community Outreach Award. He is active with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Arkansas Youth Coalition for Social Change, and Poor People’s Campaign National Call For Moral Revival. In 2018-2019 he taught special interest spoken word classes at the University of Arkansas Little Rock with the Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy program.

In 2019 Bolly worked across Arkansas to engage communities around youth advocacy, voter engagement, social justice, racial equity, education, and criminal justice reform. Alongside Dawn Jeffrey with Seeds of Liberation and partnering with Arkansas Citizens First Congress and the ACLU of Arkansas, they were able to complete the #KnowYourRights Tour in Arkansas, helping to engage hundreds of Arkansans about the rights of citizens through interactive discussions with lawyers, artistic expression, and literature. In 2019 he was the Activist Award recipient at the Black Empowerment Awards.

In 2020, he was a teaching artist for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s HEARD Project and became an organizer for the Little Rock Freedom Fund. Little Rock Freedom Fund was created for the people by the people. The fund works to support activists, organizers, and protestors in Arkansas who are working to educate, organize, and activate the people. On Election Day, November 3, 2020, Bolly released a new single entitled “What’s at Stake”, a song that promotes voter education, civic engagement, and encouraging marginalized communities to get involved in understanding the importance of public policy/advocacy. Osyrus Bolly is currently the Racial Equity & Social Justice Coordinator for the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.


Maria de Los Angeles

Maria De Los Angeles

Maria De Los Angeles is a multidisciplinary artist who addresses ideas of migration, belonging, and identity through her drawing, painting, printmaking, and wearable sculptures. She holds an MFA in Painting & Printmaking from Yale School of Art (2015), a BFA in Painting from Pratt Institute (2013), and an Associate Degree in Fine Arts from Santa Rosa Junior College (2010). She was awarded the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize by Yale University (2015) for her artwork and her role within her community.

De Los Angeles has been an Artist in Residence at several notable institutions such as the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), El Museo del Barrio in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Mana Contemporary in New Jersey, Oregon Center for the Arts at and the Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, where she had a solo exhibition in 2018, followed by a 2019 solo exhibition at the Museum of Sonoma County in her hometown of Santa Rosa, California.

Recent group exhibitions include exhibitions with Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Los Angeles County Museum, IPCNY, Every Woman Biennial, Self Help Graphics, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, St. Johnʼs University, Robert Mann Gallery, and E.TAY Gallery. Public murals include Glen Ellen, California (2021), Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital (2022), and an upcoming mural for Santa Rosa Junior College to be installed in 2023. Her work has been featured in Hyperallergic, Artnet, New York Magazine, HelloGiggles, and The Observer. Previously, she has served as faculty at Pratt Institute, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Southern Oregon University. She is currently a Critic and Assistant Director of Painting and Printmaking at the Yale School of Art.

Her current and upcoming exhibitions in 2022 include We the People: The Radical Notions of Democracy, curated by Polly Nordstrand at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Imagination, Migration and Identity, a solo exhibition at Goggleworks Center for the Arts in Reading, Pennsylvania; a two-person exhibition at Mesa College in San Diego, California, curated by Alessandra Moctezuma; and a solo exhibition at the Mexican Cultural Institute in NYC.


Hadia Choudry

Hadia Choudhary

Hadia Choudhary is currently a senior in high school. She is the founder of “End the Uyghur Genocide,” a youth-led activist project founded around the mission of creating legislative and cultural action to end the Uyghur genocide. Hadia is heavily involved Islamic studies courses in her free time and teaches students at her mosque as well. In her pursuit as a social justice activist she has worked with the Activist Collab and Citizens First Congress. Hadia has ranked superior in congressional debate, qualified for the national FBLA conference, and has served her community by helping to assemble community events to fundraise for nonprofits through the youth advisory council among several other activities. She is an official poet and is a member of the Writeous Poets. Hadia has won various recognitions through poetry including awards in poetry out loud and has been featured in the Arkansas Youth Poetry Day presented by Arkansas Poet Laureate Jo McDougall.


Lauren Zuniga

Lauren Zuniga

Lauren Zuniga is a poet, designer and content strategist. She is the author of The Smell of Good Mud (Write Bloody, 2012) and The Nickel Tour (2009). Her poetry has over two million views on YouTube, has been tattooed on skin, made into dance performances, and performed in high school speech competitions across the country. She’s performed at over 200 colleges in North America and is a three-time international poetry slam finalist. Lauren holds a BA in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma and has served as Activist-in-Residence at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Social Justice and Generative Fellow for Social Movements + Innovation Lab (SM+I). She’s a mom to two teenagers (Kavi Moon & Briam Sky) and two dogs (Moosey Marble & Walter Grace). She lives with her partner Kai (ICU nurse, hot trans man) in Oklahoma City.



Lectures & Talks sponsored by

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We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy is sponsored by Kenneth C. Griffin.

Learning and engagement programming for We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy is sponsored by

Scholastic, Walmart, and Tyson Family Foundation logos

Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates, & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. | Johnny and Jeanie Morris, Bass Pro Shops | Alturas Foundation | Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc. | Sotheby’s | Bob and Becky Alexander | Marybeth and Micky Mayfield | Lamar and Shari Steiger | Jeff and Sarah Teague / Citizens Bank | Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities | Avis and Bill Bailey | Scarlett and Neff Basore | June Carter Family | Terri and Chuck Erwin | Jackye and Curtis Finch | The Harrison and Rhonda French Family | Jim and Susan von Gremp | Laurice Hachem | Shannon and Charles Holley | Valorie and Randy Lawson / Lawco Energy Group | Donna and Mack McLarty | Steve and Susan Nelson | Neal and Gina Pendergraft | Helen Porter | JT and Imelda Rose | Lee and Linda Scott | Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Catherine and Michael Mayton, Trustees | William Reese Company