The Atlantic Convenes Day of Conversation on Race and Justice in America with Seminal Event on November 12

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates to headline, plus New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, Anna Deavere Smith, director of DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Ronald Davis, Michele Norris of NPR and the Race Card Project

Washington, D.C. (November 5, 2015)—“One does not build a safety net for a race of predators… One builds a cage.” This is how The Atlantic national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates described the U.S. criminal justice system in a recent cover story for the magazine—a system which after decades of tough-on-crime policies has imprinted mass incarceration into the DNA of this country and tens of millions of families. America accounts for less than five percent of the world’s population but a quarter of those currently incarcerated: a statistic that has politicians and community leaders debating the need and means for reform. The Atlantic continues its leading coverage of this critical issue with “Race and Justice in America: An Atlantic Summit,” a day-long event on Thursday, November 12 at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Inspired by Coates's October 2015 cover story, “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” The Atlantic’s Summit will explore and expand upon the themes covered in the piece with speakers from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. The event, which will be headlined by Coates, will also feature:

  • Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans who is on a crusade to stop violence and encourage open conversation on race in one of the nation's most diverse cities and incarcerated states.

  • Susan Burton, who served 6 prison sentences throughout the 1980’s, and has since founded A New Way of Life Reentry Project, which helps women returning from incarceration to rebuild their lives.

  • Ronald Davis, the Director of the US Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and Executive Director of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, charged with developing solutions to improve community trust in police while enhancing public safety.

  • Anna Deavere Smith, playwright and actress whose one-woman show takes on the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

  • Devah Pager, a Harvard Sociologist who specializes in institutions affecting racial stratification, including education, labor markets, and the criminal justice system.

Additional speakers and program details will be released in the coming days.

Conversations will be led by The Atlantic’s James Bennet, Scott Stossel, Matt Thompson, and Steve Clemons. NPR’s Michele Norris, whose Race Card Project challenges people to use five words to describe their experience with race, will also moderate.

“Race and Justice in America” builds on The Atlantic’s storied history and modern persistence in engaging with issues of race and civil rights. Recent examples include the multimedia special report “The Age of Mass Incarceration,” which included three Atlantic-produced videos, and dozens of responses and related articles; Coates’s blockbuster June 2014 piece “The Case for Reparations,” which sparked a national dialogue on the moral case for reparations; and “Race and the American Idea: 155 Years of Writing from The Atlantic,” a new 500 page ebook compiling some of the magazine’s most iconic writings on race and society of the past century and a half.

This event is open to press. Members of the media interested in attending or wishing to learn more should contact The Atlantic’s media leads below. Join the conversation on social media with @Atlantic_LIVE and #RaceJustice2015. The event will also be streamed live online. Additional speakers and program updates will be issued in the coming days.

Open Society Foundations are a Founding Level Underwriter of “Race and Justice: An Atlantic Summit.” The Joyce Foundation is a Presenting Level Underwriter, Ford Foundation is a Supporting Level Underwriter, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation is a Contributing Level Underwriter.