PHILADELPHIA — Since her book “Lead From the Outside” came out in paperback last month, Stacey Abrams has been showing up in places befitting a woman whose razor-thin loss in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race turned her into a national political star.
On “Morning Joe,” she parried questions about a possible presidential run. On “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert surprised her by reading from one of the romance novels she has published under a pseudonym.
But last Friday, Ms. Abrams dropped in on a much quieter venue: the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 by Ben Franklin, which bills itself as the oldest cultural institution in the United States.
It wasn’t a stop on Ms. Abrams’s book tour. Instead, she was there to participate in an intimate two-hour conversation about the history of voter suppression with four leading scholars. It will be published next year by the University of Georgia Press as part of a new series called History in the Headlines, which aims to bring historical expertise to bear on today’s most hotly debated issues.
The Trump era has been a red-alert moment for many historians, who have mobilized in the classroom, on op-ed pages and on social media to combat what they see as the erosion of democratic norms and an attack on truth itself.
For the conversation, the moderator, Jim Downs, a professor at Connecticut College, had recruited what he called a “dream team”: Carol Anderson, the author of “One Person, No Vote;” Heather Cox Richardson, an expert in the history of the Republican Party; Heather Ann Thompson, the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the Attica prison revolt; and Kevin M. Kruse, who has become famous for his epic Twitter threads smiting the dubious historical claims of pundits and politicians.