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Princeton, Rutgers cohost symposium examining 'Race, Rights and Public Policy in the Age of Obama'

Scholars from Princeton, Rutgers and other universities will discuss President Barack Obama's largely race-neutral approach to civil rights policy and its impact on disparities in economic status, political and education access, and crime and punishment at a symposium Friday and Saturday, March 26-27.

The event, titled "Racial Inequality and the Challenge of a Post-Racial Society: Race, Rights and Public Policy in the Age of Obama," will bring together leading educators in the areas of race, sociology, politics and the media. The first session will be held on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus, while the Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA) at Princeton University will host the second part of the event.

The first part of the event will take place at 11:15 a.m. Friday, March 26, in Winants Hall at Rutgers, and the second-day program will take place 9 a.m. Saturday, March 27, at Robertson Hall on Princeton's campus. The symposium is cosponsored by Rutgers' Center for Race and Ethnicity (CRE) and Department of Political Science, and LAPA at Princeton.

"Barack Obama's victory as the first African American president was monumental for race relations in America. It is questionable, however, whether his policy approach as president will be an effective way of targeting a range of substantial inequalities between racial groups in this country. This conference provides us an opportunity to reflect, assess and figure out what the best way is to move forward in the world of public policy and political theory," said Paul Frymer, acting director of LAPA and associate professor of politics at Princeton.

A highlight of the Saturday conference proceedings will be the closing conference plenary session at 1 p.m. titled "Activism in the Age of Obama." Speakers will include: Cornel West, Princeton's Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies; Thomas Sugrue, David Boles Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania; and Dennis Parker, director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union. Frymer will be the moderator. This session will take place in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall, on the Princeton campus.

Friday's program at Rutgers-New Brunswick, with times and speakers, follows:

  • "Media Coverage of Race and Public Policy" (11:15 a.m.) with Todd Johnson of TheGrio.com/NBC News; Christopher Rabb, founder of Afronetizen; and Deepa Kumar, assistant professor of journalism and media studies at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information (moderator).
  • "Educational Attainment and Access" (1:30 p.m.) with Thomas Espenshade, professor of sociology at Princeton; Roland Anglin, executive director of the Initiative on Regional and Community Transformation at Rutgers; Jamie Lew, associate professor of sociology, anthropology and criminal justice at Rutgers-Newark; and Alvin Tillery Jr., assistant professor of political science at Rutgers (moderator).
  • "Economic Inequality" (3:30 p.m.) with Christina Greer, assistant professor of political science at Fordham University; Niki Dickerson, professor at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations; Michael K. Brown, research professor of politics at the University of California-Santa Cruz; and Keith Wailoo, Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers (moderator).

Saturday's program at Princeton, with times and speakers, follows:

  • "Civil Rights and Representation" (9 a.m.) with Imani Perry, professor of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton; Kira Sanbonmatsu, associate professor of political science at Rutgers; Alvin Tillery Jr., assistant professor of political science at Rutgers; and Tali Mendelberg, associate professor of politics at Princeton (moderator). Location: 16 Robertson Hall.
  • "Crime and Punishment" (10:45 a.m.) with Keesha Middlemass, assistant professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark; Pat Carr, associate professor of sociology at Rutgers; Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania; Jeannine Bell, LAPA fellow and professor at the Indiana University Mauer School of Law; and Lisa Miller, acting director of CRE and associate professor of political science at Rutgers (moderator). Location: Robertson Hall, Bowl 16.
  • "Activism in the Age of Obama" (1 p.m.) with Cornel West, Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton; Dennis Parker, director of the Racial Justice Program of the ACLU; Thomas Sugrue, David Boles Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania; and Paul Frymer, acting director of LAPA and associate professor of politics at Princeton (moderator). Location: Robertson Hall, Dodds Auditorium.

About LAPA at Princeton:

The Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University explores the role of law in politics, society, the economy and culture in the United States and around the world. Through its programming, teaching and research initiatives, LAPA combines the multidisciplinary expertise of Princeton's faculty with the knowledge and perspectives provided by leading academics and practical experts on American, international, and comparative law to create an exciting new forum in which to address the complex problems of the 21st century. For more information, visit LAPA's website.

About the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers:

Rutgers' Center for Race and Ethnicity facilitates research and enhances education on matters of race and ethnicity in contemporary life in New Jersey, the country and the world. For more information, visit the center's website.


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