In America, “there are two very contradictory stories taking place,” Nation columnist Gary Younge told a Madison, Wisconsin, audience on April 30. “First of all, there’s the story that America tells itself, which is the story of eternal progress, that we’re always getting better.” The true story, Younge said, is that “actually in many areas, things are getting worse.”

Younge was speaking on a special panel at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art staged as part of The Nation’s 150th anniversary tour. He was joined by John Nichols, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Representative Mandela Barnes, and M Adams for a discussion on “civil rights in the age of extremism.”

“Some things have gotten better,” Younge said, “but the progress has been uneven and there have been regressions.” And despite generations of struggle, “the basic issue of the sanctity of black life has still not been settled.”

James F. Kelly