SUNY New Paltz Lecture Features Leading Scholar

NEW PALTZ – The Benjamin Center and the Department of Black Studies at SUNY New Paltz will welcome Christopher J. Clark, associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to deliver the annual Gary King Visiting Lecture in Applied Social Research.

Clark’s talk, titled “Gaining Voice: Black Seat Share and Policy Representation in States,” will take place on Thursday, March 12, at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Building Multi-Purpose Room. It is open to the public without charge.

This timely discussion, taking place as primary voters across the U.S. take to the polls, will make the case that black political involvement, political attitudes and public opinion largely hinge on the proportion of African Americans making up a state legislature – what Clark terms “black seat share” – as well as the degree to which that proportion reflects the demographic makeup of the state. He suggests that a critical mass of African American legislators will be needed to initiate the creation of black caucuses, which become an important institution for minority representation.

Clark is the author of a new book, “Gaining Voice: The Causes and Consequences of Black Representation in the American States,” published by Oxford University Press in 2019. He has also co-authored multiple studies on topics including the creation of women’s state legislative caucuses, citizen demand for descriptive representation, and how descriptive representation influences the citizen-legislator relationship.

“Gaining Voice” will be the third in a series of special guest lectures underwritten by Gary King ’80 (Political Science), a SUNY New Paltz alumnus, member of the National Academy of Sciences, and Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University.

The Gary King Visiting Lecture in Applied Social Research aims to present New Paltz community members with exceptional and concrete examples of rigorous, empirical, quantitative applied social research, and to demonstrate how its application may inform and improve public policy.

Clark’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Black Studies.

For more information, visit The Benjamin Center online or contact

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