Fall Forum

Citizenship, Justice, and Racial Conciliation 

Sunday, November 1, 2015, 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Columbia Point, Boston

Free Public Forum

Our topic this year picks up on a recent op-ed essay by NY Times columnist Charles Blow in which he was addressing the ongoing conflict between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPB in the wake of the Eric Garner incident in Staten Island. Toward the end of his essay, Blow writes, “We have to decide what should racial conciliation look like in this country.” He then poses three crucial questions:

Does [racial conciliation] look like avoidance and go-along-to-get-along obsequiousness, or does it look like justice and acknowledgment of both the personal parts we play and the noxious structural bias enveloping us? How is mutual understanding achieved without mutual respect being given and blame taken? How do we reconcile ourselves to one another without the failures of the systems that govern us being laid bare before us?

These are some of the questions we plan to explore at our public forum this fall with an outstanding group of scholars, writers, and public intellectuals who have interesting, thoughtful and constructive things to say about how to understand and improve race relations in the United States.


Douglas Blackmon

Tommie Shelby

Tommie Shelby


James Forman, Jr.



Each panelist has been selected for his or her expertise on one or more key issues related to our theme. They include the classicist and political philosopher Danielle Allen, author of Talking to Strangers, Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown v. Board of Education (among other works) and newly-named director of the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University; Yale Law School professor James Forman, Jr., a former Washington DC public defender currently writing a book about African American attitudes towards crime and punishment in the age of mass incarceration; and Tommie Shelby, Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Harvard and author of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity.
UPDATE 10/15/15: Due to a family emergency Beverly Daniel Tatum is unable to participate on our panel.

Our forum moderator this year will be Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist Douglas Blackmon, author of Slavery By Another Name and Director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.