Thursday panel discussions at IU Bloomington feature leading figures on race and policing

Khalil G. Muhammad and Jelani Cobb are two of the best contemporary writers on the topic of race in America, period. And by coincidence, both will be at IU Bloomington this Thursday — for two separate panel discussions related to race, justice and policing.

Khalil G. Muhammad

Khalil G. Muhammad

Muhammad, a former IU Bloomington historian, is director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. He will take part in a symposium on “Ferguson: Policing’s Past, Present, and Future” from 2-4 p.m. in the Moot Court Room of the Maurer School of Law.

Also on the law school panel will be Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer who is now a faculty member at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York; Jeannine Bell, professor and Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow at the Maurer School of Law; and Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an assistant professor of criminal justice at IU Bloomington.

Cobb, a University of Connecticut historian who writes for The New Yorker and other publications, will be part of a panel for “It’s Not So Black and White: Talking Race, From Ferguson to Bloomington,” an evening of activities that also include music and spoken-word performances by IU students and a social justice fair involving dozens of campus and community organizations.

The panel discussion will take place at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall of the Indiana Memorial Union, with the justice fair following next door in the IMU Solarium. The panel will also include Owusu-Bempah and Monroe Circuit Judge Valeri Haughton, and Bell will moderate. It was organized by the Department of History diversity panel and is sponsored by a variety of IU offices and organizations.

Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb

In response to the police shootings of black men in Ferguson, Mo., New York and elsewhere last year, Muhammad and Cobb emerged as two of the most passionate and eloquent chroniclers of the Black Lives Matter protests and analysts of the state of race in America.

Muhammad has been director since 2011 of the Schomburg Center, a cultural center and research library that sponsors exhibitions, scholarly and public forums, and cultural performances. He is the author of “The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America.”

In recent months, he has been interviewed by NPR, Moyers & Co. and other news programs and has taken part in forums and public conversations on race, crime and law enforcement. His op-eds and essays have appeared in The Guardian and other publications.

Cobb visited Ferguson, Mo., several times and wrote multiple articles about the city and the protests for The New Yorker, to which he has been a contributor since 2013. His writings appear in The New York Times, Al-Jazeera America, ESPN and other publications, in addition to The New Yorker.

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