Presidential Ideas Fest Tackles Race on Day 2

May 23, 2019

(L to r) Moderator and White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics Sidney Milkis; Rabbi and former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom David Saperstein; UVA Department of Politics faculty, and Department of Religious Studies faculty fellow Larycia Hawkins; American University professor Ibram Kendi; and Morgan State University professor Jason Johnson.
Credit Marguerite Gallorini

The Presidential Ideas Festival continues in Charlottesville.  On Wednesday [May 22nd], scholars from UVA and elsewhere formed a panel to talk about a pressing issue of our time: race in America, and in U.S. politics.  WMRA's Marguerite Gallorini reports.

With events such as August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville and the conversation around racism and racial inequality raging nationally, the Presidential Ideas Festival had to address the issue of race in America. Here's Larycia Hawkins, who holds joint appointments in Politics and Religious Studies at UVA, talking about the focus on the Obama presidency.

LARYCIA HAWKINS: As a political scientist, I find it odd that I'm never asked, previously, about race relations during Bush's administration; or during Clinton's administration. Race and the presidency always collide, and coalesce. And so I think it's important to shift our questioning: how did Nixon's benign neglect affect race relations in the U.S., right?

The panel also discussed reparations for slavery. Here’s rabbi and former U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom David Saperstein:

DAVID SAPERSTEIN: If you count the two million veterans at the end of World War II and their families, it is the same proportion of America that African Americans are today. And the GI bill and the FHA loan programs lifted to the middle class almost that entire segment of the country. It really can be done, if we have the moral vision and the political will to do it.