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Diane Manuel, News Service (650) 725-1945; e-mail:

Stanford hosts national conference on race

Police profiling, affirmative action, representations of African Americans in the media, black political participation and African American religious and community life are several of the challenging issues that speakers and panelists will address at a major national conference on race hosted by Stanford University.

"African Americans: Research and Policy Perspectives at the Turn of the Century" will bring scholars and commentators to the campus Nov. 11-13 to look at the latest research in six major areas: arts, culture and society; education; business, economics and social welfare; politics and public policy; law, courts and the justice system; and health, science, engineering and technology.

Nationally known scholars and commentators include Nancy Cantor, provost of the University of Michigan; Hazel Carby, chair of African American studies at Yale University; ABC correspondent Farai Chideya; Joe Feagin, professor of sociology at the University of Florida and president of the American Sociological Association; John Hope Franklin, former chair of President Clinton's Initiative on Race; Charles Ogletree, professor of law at Harvard Law School; Gary Orfield, professor of education and social policy at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University; Arnold Rampersad, professor of English at Stanford; Condoleezza Rice, former provost and professor of political science at Stanford; Kathleen Sullivan, dean of the Stanford Law School; and Tyrone Willingham, head football coach at Stanford.

"We want the conference to be holistic and to cover the major issues that pertain to the African American experience," said Lucius Barker, the William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science and executive director of the conference. "We want that experience to be examined in the broadest contextual perspective."

The conference is open to the public but requires a $100 registration fee. That fee is waived for Stanford faculty, staff and students. Members of local church-related and nonprofit organizations also may be eligible for fee waivers by contacting the conference office.

Participants on 39 panels will examine the latest scholarly research related to troubling issues that the African American community continues to face, and will suggest policy options.

In addition to established figures, the conference also will feature emerging scholars and graduate students who will present papers. More than 140 proposals were received for the conference.

"We welcome the kinds of empirically based research papers that look at work that has been taken for granted in the past and say, 'hey, we need to reexamine this' or 'this could be improved on,'" Barker said.

As a follow-up to the report issued in September 1998 by President Clinton's Initiative on Race, "One America in the 21st Century: Forging a New Future," the Stanford conference intends to examine persistent challenges that were identified by that body.

"These are problems that are not going away," Barker says about issues such as racial barriers to education and economic advancement. "And this is not unlike the emphasis that the federal government included in its brief to the Supreme Court in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case, when it said that we have to do away with racial segregation."

Attendees at the conference also will include faculty and student representatives of 10 historically black colleges and universities.

"Many of the leaders in the African American community were trained at those schools, and we wanted to include them in order to get a full spectrum of the leadership that's going to be required to solve these continuing problems," said Barker, who is a graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge.

The 10 participating schools are Alcorn State University, Bennett College, Fisk University, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University, Prairie View Agricultural & Mechanical University, Southern University, Stillman College, Tuskegee University and Xavier University.

Members of communities surrounding Stanford Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City also will participate in the discussions, including a representative from the RISE program in the local schools and Paul Sheppard, pastor of the nondenominational Abundant Life Christian Fellowship.

The three-day conference schedule is divided among town meetings, panels, roundtable discussions and plenary sessions.

Sponsored by the Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity and the African and Afro-American Studies Program, the conference is supported by the offices of the president and provost and the dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, in addition to several major foundations.

For more information, consult the web page at or contact the conference office at (650) 725-3859.


By Diane Manuel

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