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Summary

In the aftermath of the events in Ferguson, Staten Island and elsewhere, race relations are at the forefront of the minds of many Americans. Specifically in St. Louis, the relationship between local communities and law enforcement officers assigned to protect them is worsening, the quality of information shared is both positively and negatively affected by the new media environment, and the city remains one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas of the United States.

To address these increasingly significant issues, the Aspen Institute Communications & Society Program convened the "Aspen Institute Community Dialogue on Healing the Racial Divide" on March 24, 2015, at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.


PANELISTS
Kevin Ahlbrand
President, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police
Gilbert Bailon
Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Daniel Isom
Former Chief, Metropolitan Police Department of St. Louis and E. Desmond Lee Professor of Policing and the Community, University of Missouri St. Louis
Clifton Kinnie
Student Activist
Suzanne Malveaux
National Correspondent, CNN (MODERATOR)
Don Marsh
Host, St. Louis Public Radio
Michel Martin
Host, NPR (MODERATOR)
DeRay Mckesson
Founder and Co-Editor, Ferguson Protestor Newsletter
Kelvin Adams
Superintendent of Schools, St. Louis Public School District
Valerie Bell
Chair, St. Louis Public Schools Foundation
Walter Isaacson
President and CEO, the Aspen Institute and Chair Emeritus, Teach For America (MODERATOR)
Tiffany Anderson
Superintendent of Schools, Jennings School District
OPENING REMARKS
Charles M. Firestone
Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
Kiahna Cassell
Senior Project Manager, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
Brittany Packnett
Executive Director, Teach For America
AGENDA
8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Light Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Welcome, Kiahna Cassell, Senior Project Manager, Communications and Society Program, the Aspen Institute and Brittany Packnett, Executive Director, Teach For America
9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Introduction by Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, the Aspen Institute
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Panel 1: Black Youth and the Police
 

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and in other parts of the US have put race relations at the forefront of the minds of Americans. Many citizens who listen to witness accounts or watch cell phone videos of these incidents feel that law enforcement officers responded with brutality and used unnecessary force. Meanwhile, some suggest that there is a disconnect between public perceptions and the official facts of a case. Minority citizens in these communities fear being wrongfully targeted by police officers, while police officers are in fear while they protect the community, and themselves, from possible threats. Have tensions worsened between community residents and law enforcement in recent months? How do we resolve these racial fears?

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. - 11:45 p.m. Panel 2: Media and Reporting of Ferguson
 

There are more sources of news and information available to the US public than ever before. In addition to local and national reporting, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, also greatly influence the information shared with the public after incidents like the death of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Panelists will discuss how the modern media environment can positively and negatively affect the quality of information shared with the public during periods of racial conflict and unrest. Are there ways in which the media can work together with local communities to help heal the racial divide?

11:45 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. Panel 3: Education
 

St. Louis remains one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas in the United States. School district boundaries divide students in racially separated schools, making it difficult for students of color to receive the first-class education of their white counterparts. According to a report released by the Department of Education, black and Latino children nationwide are the least likely to be taught by a qualified and experienced teacher, to be offered courses such as chemistry and calculus or to have access to technology.

While there is a desperate need for reform strategies and effective policies, part of the achievement gap between whites and blacks is greatly influenced by teacher accountability, family engagement and student performance. What would it take to dismantle St. Louis’ racial education ghettos?

12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Concluding Remarks
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Private Luncheon Roundtable Session
Next Steps and Recommendations