Arizona State University: Virtual Series on Race, Justice, and Leadership

Murdock Hall, Arizona State University

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership: Spring 2021 Webinar Series, “Race, Justice, and Leadership”


The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, a JMC partner program, continues “Race, Justice, and Leadership,” its JMC-supported virtual series in the school’s Civic Discourse Project providing perspective on current civic issues through conversations among the school’s faculty and students, academic guests, and a wider community.

In response to Arizona State University President Michael Crow’s call to address recent events across America and the civic crisis of conscience they provoked, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership proposed to lead a program of discussion, learning, and action for a renewal of our common pledge to respect and protect the equal rights of all Americans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To this end, the theme of this year’s “The Civic Discourse Project” addresses Race, Justice, and Leadership in America in a virtual series. Each webinar is dedicated to leaders of thought and action, and includes discussion of the subject of racism and the founding, the thought of Martin Luther King Jr., and current race relations, throughout the Spring 2021 semester. The webinar series is free and open to the public. The webinars allow a livestream audience to pose questions to the guest experts.

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Martin Luther King Jr on national mallJanuary 20, 2021 – “SCETL Martin Luther King Jr. Day Annual Address” with Thomas Chatterton Williams

“Thomas Chatterton Williams offers a critical reflection on ‘race and identity,’ and the necessity of moving beyond the contemporary conventional wisdom about racial categorization to a time when it is possible to achieve Martin Luther King’s dream of a racially transcendent future. In his recent book Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race, Williams discusses his experiences and choices, which have led him “to question out loud [his] own continued allegiance to the color categories buttressing the American caste system.” He argues that the way towards a civic culture that respects differences and embraces commonalities is through education and a commitment to “the belief in and search for unifying truth, and the power to discern it through reason tempered by tolerance for diverging opinions and views.” This perspective motivated him to pen and organize “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate,” in “defense of freedom of expression in a climate of growing censoriousness” for Harpers’ Magazine.

Please join us for a vital conversation with Thomas Chatterton Williams, the 2021 Annual Martin Luther King Day Lecture speaker for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.”

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AmericanFebruary 1, 2021 – “Whose Fourth of July? Blacks and the American Project” with Glenn Loury

“In this discussion of “Race and American Citizenship,” Glenn Loury asks whether the currently fashionable standoffishness that characterizes elite thinking about how Blacks relate to the American Project — as exemplified by the NYT’s 1619 Project — serves the best interests, rightly understood, of Black Americans. Might not a case be made for unabashed patriotism, for a forthright embrace of (a soft) nationalism? Isn’t the “America ain’t all it’s cracked-up to be” pose a bit of a sophomoric indulgence for Blacks at this late date? Isn’t our birthright citizenship in this, history’s greatest republic, an inheritance of immense value?”

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Crowd of people, 1940February 22, 2021 – “The Enduring Power of White Guilt” with Shelby Steele

Professor Shelby Steele will join us for a conversation about his recently released documentary film What Killed Michael Brown? and an examination of his argument that race in America is used as a means to power.”

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W.E.B. Du Bois, 1907March 15, 2021 – “W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington: Addressing the Civil Rights Crisis” with Diana Schaub and Terrence L. Johnson

JMC faculty partner Diana Schaub and Terrence L. Johnson will compare the views of W.E.B Dubois and Booker T. Washington:

“W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington disagreed about the best means to realize the promise of freedom and equality for Black Americans contained in the Civil War Amendments. The argument between Washington and DuBois remains of continuing importance in American life because it helps us understand a central point of division in approaches to the same issue today: there is the party of protest, which aligns with DuBois, and a party of self-improvement, more in the spirit of Washington. Does the path to equality for Black Americans lie in protesting injustice, or in pursuing economic and cultural advancement? And to what extent are these two paths, represented by DuBois and Washington, compatible with each other?”

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January 20 – March 15, 2021

Registration required



The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University seeks to introduce a new level of debate over the large questions of life that always arise. These are questions of value: What is the best form of government? The most efficient and just economy? The good life for an individual? And also basic questions of fact and concept: Is science the only kind of knowledge? Does history have a direction and purpose? Is moral choice a fact or delusion? These questions do not have easy answers, and indeed the questions have always been clearer than the answers. As a learning community of faculty and students, the school approaches them in two ways. One way is to look beyond the time and borders of our present society to the great thinkers who have contended for the high status of teachers of humanity, such as Homer, Dante and Shakespeare. The other way of studying the fundamental questions is to look within to American leaders, both intellectual and political, who have inspired us.

Learn more about the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership >>



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