Racial Equity

Relive the Best Moments from Past State of Race Symposiums

May 18, 2018  • Communications and Society Program

Registration is now open for the Aspen Institute’s Symposium on the State of Race in America, held at the Newseum on May 24th at 8:30 am. This annual event is presented by the Communications and Society Program, in association with Comcast NBCUniversal. State of Race will explore new attitudes, opportunities, and challenges for and about people of color in the United States. In anticipation, we have compiled excerpts from some of our best panelists in previous years.


Spike Lee

Spike Lee is a director, producer, writer, and actor who runs the production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks which has produced over 35 films since 1983. At the 2011 symposium, he explained what it would take for Hollywood to more accurately represent people of color.

Lillian Rodriguez Lopez

Lillian Rodriguez Lopez served as president of the Hispanic Federation before joining the Coca-Cola Company as director of Latin Affairs. On a panel in 2011, she discussed the problems facing minority children today and how government and corporate partnerships can help tackle them.

Ralph Reed

Ralph Reed is a conservative political activist who started the Faith and Freedom Coalition. At the 2013 symposium, he challenged faith-based communities and their leaders to create a space for dialogue and understanding.

Mitch Landrieu

Mitch Landrieu is the current mayor of New Orleans. At the 2014 symposium, he used a powerful analogy to press for both concern and action to combat the level of violence on the streets of America.

Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous is a venture capitalist and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. On a panel in 2013, he described why it is so difficult to find women, blacks, and Latinos in the Silicon Valley.

Nailah Harper-Malveaux

Nailah Harper-Malveaux is a student activist and recent graduate of Yale University. At the 2016 symposium, she explained how jokes and costumes can perpetuate harmful racial profiling of minorities.

Congressman James Clyburn

James Clyburn has served as the representative for South Carolina’s 6th district since 1993. He believes that Americans today are afraid to deal with racial issues — unlike earlier in his career, when Congress participated in bipartisan efforts to fight inequality.

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