page image


The Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America explores new attitudes, opportunities, and challenges for and about people of color in 21st century America. The 2014 panels included topics on:

  • Housing
  • Violence in Minority Communities
  • Race, Media and Politics

The annual event is presented by the Communications and Society Program in association with Comcast Corporation.

Highlights from the 2014 Symposium on The State of Race.

Tanner Colby
Author, Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America
Lisa Hasegawa
Executive Director, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
Mark Hugo Lopez
Director of Hispanic Research, Pew Research Center
Richard Lui
News Anchor, MSNBC and NBC News (MODERATOR)
Courtney Gaskins
Director of Program Services, Youth for Tomorrow
Daniel Isom
Former Chief, Metropolitan Police Department of St. Louis and Professor, Policing and the Community, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Cathy Lanier
Chief, Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew
Survivor, Leader and Advocate
Ray Suarez
Host, “Inside Story,” Al Jazeera (MODERATOR)
Mitch Landrieu
Mayor, New Orleans, Louisiana
Michael Nutter
Mayor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Juan Williams
Political Analyst, Fox News (MODERATOR)
Charles M. Firestone
Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
Cornell Belcher
President and Chief Executive Officer, brilliant corners Research and Strategies and Political Contributor, CNN

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Light Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Welcome and Introduction by Charles M. Firestone, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
9:10 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Remarks by David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation
9:15 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Opening Presentation: Attitudes Towards Race
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Panel 1: Housing

The recession and housing bust hit minority communities the hardest, as Hispanic households on average lost nearly half of their home equity and Black households lost 28% between 2007 and 2010, according to the Urban Institute. Due to the loss of homes by people of color, the wealth gap is likely to increase as minorities are finding it more difficult to enter back into the housing market. What will these disparities and demographic shifts mean for race and class in the United States? How will the lack of affordable housing for minorities affect their ability to take financial risks?

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. - 11:45 p.m. Panel 2: Violence in Minority Communities

With the recent tragic events at the Naval Yard in Washington, D.C. and in Newtown, Connecticut, the subject of violence in communities is at the forefront of the minds of many Americans. Last year, 333 people were murdered in Philadelphia and 75% of the victims and perpetrators were African American males. In communities where people of color are without jobs, healthcare and homes, many are resorting to a life of crime. And while poverty is not an excuse for criminal behavior, it is an explanation for it. What are some long-term solutions for decreasing violence in minority communities? While there are policy efforts in place to combat international terrorism, are there equal policies in place to combat domestic terrorism? How can local, state and federal agencies collaborate to combat crime effectively in U.S. communities of color?

11:45 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. Panel 3: Race, Media and Politics

Interviews of Mayors Michael Nutter and Mitch Landrieu will provide a perspective on the role of race in local politics, looking at how Philadelphia and New Orleans have addressed racial issues and divides. Additionally, the way the media cover issues such as housing, education, and violence is especially important in the formation of racial and cultural attitudes. This panel will provide two mayors’ perspectives on the representation of race and racially charged political issues in the media.

12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Concluding Remarks
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Lunch Roundtable Session: Politics

The policies of the administration will undoubtedly affect minority communities, among others. How will these policies shape race relations overall and provide an environment conducive to continuing the dialogue? What are the next steps of moving toward a nation devoid of racial discrimination and racial disparities?

Share On