john a. powell

john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. john is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.


john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of LawAfrican American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University where he also held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law.

john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

Find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Bridging in Practice
Throughout O&B 2021 we’ve discussed the urgency of bridging across lines of difference, including across ideological lines, which can sometimes be the most difficult bridge to cross for those of us working towards belonging. In this discussion, OBI Director john a. powell will model bridging across ideological lines in a live bridging conversation with conservative John Wood, Jr., a national leader for Braver Angels , a grassroots, cross-partisan organization dedicated to political depolarization. Wood is a former nominee for congress, former Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Los...
Closing Q&A with john a. powell
In this closing discussion, moderated by Uma Viswanathan of New Pluralists Collaborative, OBI Director john a. powell will answer questions directly from the O&B audience about bridging and belonging in practice. Uma and john will process and reflect on john’s prior conversation with John Wood, Jr., and discuss our collective challenge moving forward, as we seek to build a world where ideological and group-based differences do not serve to divide us into smaller and smaller groups—and ultimately allow us to build a world where all belong.
Opening Conversation: The Risk & Possibility of Bridging
In this intimate discussion, OBI Director john a. powell and philosopher Judith Butler will engage in a deep exploration of bridging, particularly in the context of our current moment of heightened polarization, deepened mistrust, and "breaking" across identity lines. While the concept of bridging is not new, they argue that bridging across lines of difference is now more urgent than ever- even if we face pushback from our own "side." john and Judith will discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of bridging in moments of crisis, and ultimately make the case for building risky bridges, arguing...