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To a special edition of CitizenCast

Welcome to Roxanne’s insightful and moving interview with Ali Velshi

And go here for more interviews, events and audio articles from CitizenCast

RECAP: Small Acts of Courage Book Launch with Ali Velshi

The MSNBC anchor and chief correspondent debuted his memoir, a series of stories about what it means to be a citizen of a democracy

RECAP: Small Acts of Courage Book Launch with Ali Velshi

The MSNBC anchor and chief correspondent debuted his memoir, a series of stories about what it means to be a citizen of a democracy

MSNBC anchor and Citizen board member Ali Velshi’s new book, Small Acts of Courage: A Legacy of Endurance and the Fight for Democracy, is a memoir of his family’s migration from India to South Africa to Kenya to Canada, and his own evolution as an American citizen. But at heart, it is a book about the ideas that animate Velshi every week on TV — democracy, and the rights and privileges that go along with that.

“The world feels overwhelming,” Velshi told 200 people Tuesday night at a launch party for his book. “It feels like a world where there are problems we cannot solve. But there’s always something we can do. We have agency.”

Velshi started the conversation with Citizen Co-executive Editor Roxanne Patel Shepelavy by reading a passage about his father’s unsuccessful first run for elected office in Ontario, Canada. His dad ran only a few years after their family immigrated from Kenya via South Africa, where apartheid denied his parents the right to vote. As an 11-year-old, Velshi couldn’t understand why his father was so “at ease” with his loss. But Murad Velshi knew something his son didn’t: That the freedom to run for office as an immigrant of Indian origin was itself a victory.

“Cynicism about politics is actually a luxury of those who have never had to experience life without it, and if those people ever truly lost their ability to participate in the system they’d never take that for granted again,” Velshi read. Later, he noted what is on the horizon: Elections in India, Hungary, Turkey and the United States this year, in which citizens may very well vote to dismantle their democracies.

Velshi, as he does in the book, recounted to the audience his great-grandfather’s friendship with Mahatma Gandhi; Canada’s “pragmatically compassionate” policy toward immigrants — and why newcomers led to the country’s growth and strength; his dangerous encounter with Minneapolis police during the protests following George Floyd’s murder; and why it’s the little things — like his sister’s years of civil service — that can make a difference in the lives of individual citizens and democracy writ large.

“Small acts,” he said, “cost you something. They’re not easy.” But they are the building blocks of citizenship.

Watch the conversation below.

Melissa Bodie, a white woman with light brown hair curled to her chest wears a shiny red suit jacket and stands alongside Charles Bodie, a tall white man with grey hair and bears wearing a dark suit jacket with a pink pocket square and a button down blue shirt.
Melissa and Charles Bodie.
Sandra Dungee Glenn, a Black woman with curly shoulder length black hair, glasses atop her head, a peach-color top, long gold necklace and Chanel style suit jacket stands beside Richard Binswanger, a partially bald white man in a red polo shirt and navy suit jacket. Richard has his arm around Sandra. Both are smiling.
Sandra Dungee Glenn and Richard Binswanger.
Michael Nutter, a bald Black man in glasses, a dark suit jacket and white shirt, smiles as he stands next to Larry Platt, a bald white man with glasses, a navy suit jacket and lavender button down shirt, also smiling and holding a phone.
Former Philadelphia Mayor Mike Nutter and Citizen Co-founder Larry Platt (right).
Leah Popowich, a White woman with long brown ahri and a collared black outfit stands alongside Susanna Lachs, an older white woman with long brown hair wearing a cream color suit jacket and patterned blouse. The are smiling and standing before a tall paned window.
Leah Popowich (left) and Susanna Lachs.
Jean Haskell , an older person with short brown hair, wire-frame glasses, a brown cardigan and plaid brown shirt stands alongside and Maya Mitrasinovic, a younger Brown woman with long dark curly hair and a black shell top. They are smiling.
Jean Haskell (left) and Maya Mitrasinovic.
Eric Henn, a White man with brown hair pulled back and a close beard, wearing glasses and a grey-blue button-down shirt, stands with his arm around Christina Griffith, a white woman with curly brown hair past her shoulders wearing glasses, and tops that are red, grey and black and a necklace. They are smiling while at the book launch of Ali Velshi's Small Acts of Courage.
Eric Henn and Christina Griffith.
Richard Vague, an older white man with grey and white hair and stubble wearing a dark suit jacket, blue shirt and red tie, stands face to face with Ali Velshi, a bald Indian American man wearing a navy suit jacket and tie and white and blue shirt.
Richard Vague (left) and Ali Velshi.
Dozens of people, mostly seated, but some standing in the background, look in one direction in an auditorium.
The crowd.
Harv Becker, an older white man with white hair wearing a blue and white gingham buttondown sits with his arm around Joan Becker, an older woman with curly brown hair wearing a blue shirt and cream color wrap.
Harv and Joan Becker.
Four hardback books featuring the image of Ali Velshi and the words "Small Acts of Courage" are propped on a table in front of stacks of the same book. Behind the table sits a white woman with curly brown short hair wearing a black tank top.
Head House Books’ setup.
Ali Velshi, a bald Indian American man wearing a navy suit jacket and tie and white and blue shirt, smiles alongside Kim Cooper, a Black woman with short hair wearing an embroidered blue short-sleeve shirt and backpack and also smiling.
Ali Velshi and Kim Cooper.


Ali Velshi, a bald Indian American man wearing a navy suit jacket and tie and white and blue shirt, and Jamie Duguay, a white woman with curly ginger hair and a red and white v-neck dress, smile as Velshi take a selfie photo of the two of them.
Ali Velshi and Jamie Duguay (right).



Ali Velshi signs copies of his new book. Photo by Germal Pleasant.

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