April 17 Symposium on Race, Inclusion and Culture now free

April 17 Symposium on Race, Inclusion and Culture now free

How does race impact democracy in the United States? Experts, activists and artists will discuss that question at the second biennial Symposium on Race, Inclusion and Culture from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, April 17, on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

The symposium, sponsored by the university's Office of Institutional Diversity, is now free and open to the public, but online registration is encouraged at www.stthomas.edu/diversity.

Symposium highlights include:

  • Dr. Nancy Barceló

    Keynote speaker Dr. Nancy "Rusty" Barceló, vice president and vice provost for equity and diversity at the University of Minnesota, who will speak from noon to 1 p.m. in the Great Room of McNeely Hall.   Her remarks will center on the symposium theme, "Diversity and Democracy: Intersections and Interrogations."

  • "Is America Really Post-Racial?" is the topic of a discussion by a panel of leading hip-hop activists, scholars and artists from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in O'Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. They have been touring the country with an Ohi0-based organization, Rap Sessions, which hosts town hall-style meetings to engage communities in dialogue about the ways in which race and democracy are being redefined in our national culture.

Panelists now include:

Jabari Asim

Jabari Asim, an accomplished playwright, author and journalist who is editor-in-chief of the NAACP's magazine, The Crisis, a journal of politics, ideas and culture founded in 1910 by W.E.B. Du Bois. He spent 11 years at the Washington Post as deputy editor of the book review section and a syndicated columnist on political and social issues. His 2007 book, The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why (Houghton Mifflin) was a provocative examination of this controversial word in American rhetoric and contemporary experience. His new book is What Obama Means: For Our Culture, Our Politics, and Our Future (William Morrow, January 2009).

Lisa Fager Bediako

Lisa Fager Bediako, president and co-founder of Industry Ears Inc., a think tank focused on hip-hop media. A former marketing and public relations executive for Infinity Broadcasting, Capitol-EMI Records and The Discovery Channel, she also is a consultant for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and has testified in congressional committees about television and radio content directed at communities of color.

Bakari Kitwana

Bakari Kitwana, CEO of Rap Sessions and a journalist, activist and political analyst. His 2002 book, The Hip-Hop Generation: The Crisis in African American Culture (Basic Civitas Books), has been adopted for coursework at more than 100 colleges and universities. He is former executive editor of The Source magazine and co-founder of the first National Hip-Hop Political Convention in 2004. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era (Third World Press, 2009) is his most-recent book.


M-1 – Mutulu Olugbala – is best known as half of the political hip-hop duo Dead Prez. He and his lifelong friend, "stic-man" (born Clayton Gavin), released their first album, "Let's Get Free," to critical acclaim in 2000. Known for their confrontational style and socialist and pan-Africanist lyrics, they have established themselves as lyrical descendents of Public Enemy, Brand Nubian and Poor Righteous Teachers. M-1 is well known in his own right as a grassroots activities for his work in bringing international attention to black, Puerto Rican and American Indian political prisoners in the United States. He is working on a book, Political Animal: Memoirs of a Black Power M.C.

Mattie Weiss

Mattie Weiss, director of Campus Camp Wellstone, a national program that teaches young people to run successful grassroots campaigns. A Swarthmore College graduate, she worked for the Active Element Foundation doing research for the "Future 500" national youth organizing directory and was a writer and researcher for the Oakland, Calif.-based Applied Research Center, where she wrote and published Youth Rising, a report on youth organizing around the country.

For further information about the Symposium on Race, Inclusion and Culture, call the UST Office of Institutional Diversity, (651) 962-6951.