Communications and Society Program

Aspen Institute Symposium on The State of Race in America

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

The 2014 Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America will take place on April 8, 2014 at the Newseum. Join the discussion with the Twitter hashtag #stateofrace.

Watch the live webcast of the 2014 Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America starting at 9 am, Tuesday April 8:

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Watch highlights from the 2013 event:

For more information, please contact Kiahna Williams, Senior Project Manager, Communications and Society Program at 202-736-5818 or

2013 Symposium

Watch video from the 2013 State of Race in America Symposium:

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Welcome and Introduction by Charles M. Firestone, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program.
Remarks by David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation

Presentation on the Demographics of Race

Presenter:Paul Taylor, Executive Vice-President and Director of Social and Demographic Trends Project, Pew Research Center

The Impact of Faith - based Communities on Race Relations Panel.

Churches have played an insurmountable role in race issues since the 1960's. Religious leaders are now taking platforms on issues like immigration and inequality in the criminal justice system, among others. How citizens view their faith and are practicing it continues to serve as a catalyst for the major changes that are happening in society.

Panelists:Abed Awad, Attorney, Specialist in Islamic Law; Ralph Reed, Founder and Chairman, Faith and Freedom Coalition; Jasjit Singh, Executive Director, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Juan Williams, Political Analyst, Fox News (moderator).

Panel on Youth

Present day race relations in the United States have had a large impact on the youth and next generation of Americans. How has the national dialogue on race shaped the perspective of America's youth? Are young men and women of the United States prepared for a society here minorities (people of color) are the majority?

Panelists:Christina Downs, Editor-in-Chief,The Hilltop, Howard University; Kristal High, Editor-in-Chief, Politic365; Victor Rios, Author of Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys; Lisa Wong, Mayor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts and Ray Suarez, Senior Correspondent,PBS NewsHour (moderator).

Media and Popular Culture Panel

Racial and cultural attitudes are often formed more from entertainment media than the news. Hip-Hop music, movies, YouTube videos and television sitcoms and dramas bring current attitudes to the public consciousness nearly instantaneously. Sports and entertainment icons become role models for all youth whether intentional or not.

Panelists: Anna Deavere Smith, Actress and Playwright; Thomas Chatterton Williams, Author,Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop; Brian Yang, Actor, "Hawaii Five-0" and José Díaz-Balart, News Anchor, Telemundo (moderator)

Concluding Remarks by Historian and Author: Taylor Branch

Presenter: Taylor Branch, Historian and Author, 'The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement.'


Download the agenda.

Download the opening presentation on the demographics of race by Paul Taylor of Pew Research Center.


2012 Symposium

April 9, 2012 - The Newseum

The Second Symposium examined individual, cultural, institutional and structural causes of racial problems, looking towards new and viable solutions. It featured five substantive panel sessions: Political Factors, the Latino Vote, the New American Identity, Education, and News Media. The discussions were moderated by Juan Williams and Jose Diaz-Balart.


Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race

Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race2011 Symposium
April 11, 2011 - The Newseum

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, in association with Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change and Comcast Corporation, hosted the inaugural Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America on April 11th, 2011. The Symposium examined individual, cultural, institutional, and structural implications of race, and explored the impact of change in the context of the home, workplace, school, and the public sphere. The discussions were moderated by Juan Williams and Richard Liu.


Presentation by Prof. Dianne Pinderhughes

Introduction and Panel 1: Family and Identity Factors

Panel 2: Race and Politics

Panel 3: Institutional Factors

Panel 4: Media and Popular Culture


The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program serves as a non-partisan venue for global leaders and experts to exchange insights on the societal impact of advances in digital technology and network communications. It also creates a multidisciplinary space in the communications policy-making world where veteran and emerging decision-makers can explore new concepts and develop new policy networks. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.