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The Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America explored new attitudes, opportunities, and challenges for and about people of color in 21st century America. The annual event was presented by the Communications and Society Program in association with Comcast Corporation. The 2016 Symposium included two panels on race and the university and shifting demographics in urban communities. Following the two sessions, the Symposium attendees took part in a town hall to have a more in-depth discussion about next steps and recommendations.

Juan Williams
Political Analyst, Fox News
Richard Lui
Anchor, NBC News and MSNBC
Phoebe Haddon
Chancellor, Rutgers University
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor, Baltimore, Maryland
Nailah Harper-Malveaux
Student Activist, Yale University
Eduardo Padrón
President, Miami-Dade College
Suzanne Lee Chan
Councilmember, Fremont, California
DeRay McKesson
Co-Founder, We the Protestors
Ray Suarez
Michael Nutter
Former Mayor, Philadelphia
Dawn Phillips
Executive Director, Right to the City
Charles M. Firestone
Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
Kiahna Cassell
Project Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
David L. Cohen
Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation
8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Light Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Welcome and Introduction by Charles M. Firestone, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and Remarks by David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation
9:15 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Opening Presentation: The State of Race in an Election Cycle
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Panel 1: Race and the University
  Demonstrations on college and university campuses across the United States have increased in recent months shining a spotlight on institutional racism and its effects on academia, athletics and student life. Claims of professors using culturally insensitive language and student reports of being forced to learn in racially hostile environments have sparked a national debate about educational equality on American campuses. Meanwhile, some argue that claims of “micro-aggression” are coming from overly sensitive students who are “too politically correct.” What are feasible solutions to calming the current campus climate across the U.S.? How should universities distinguish between expressions of free speech and threatening language in hostile learning environments? As enrollment of students of color continues to increase on college campuses, are these institutions prepared to embrace the changing demographic?
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Panel 2: Shifting Demographics in Urban Communities
  In major American cities such as New York, D.C., and Portland, longtime residents of lower income neighborhoods are increasingly feeling the effects of gentrification. Some argue that gentrification can have positive outcomes in communities of color – for example, wealthier and more entitled parents might improve weaker school districts and empower less involved parents, or new shops and restaurants and well maintained streets might attract investors and developers. On the other hand, tenants of affordable housing are forced to resettle in other areas and are often left with minimal options for low-cost housing. What options exist to help improve declining neighborhoods while also providing resettlement opportunities for original tenants and keep them connected to their community, their history and their cultural ties? When gentrification is so closely tied to both race and class, what can be done to ease the painful conflict that it often creates?
11:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. Break
11:45 a.m. - 12:45 a.m. Town Hall: Next Steps and Recommendations
12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Concluding Remarks and Lunch