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50 years after death: What can Rev. Dr. King teach us today?

By john a. powell,
Haas Institute Director

This week people all across the world are pausing to acknowledge the incredible life and the tragic death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I always deliberately include the “Reverend” in his title as we often fail to recognize King’s profound religious and spiritual grounding. The Rev. Dr. King Jr. was many things, and as we remember him and what he worked for, it may be easy to ignore the complexity and subtlety of his life and his vision. We may be more likely to grab onto some narrow aspect of his legacy and (mis)represent that as a summation of his life and work. 

I will not try to fully capture who King was in this short acknowledgement. Maybe what we emphasize in a remembrance of King tells us as much about ourselves as King. There is probably no way to completely avoid this but we can get a little closer to King’s wisdom and insights by reading, listening to King, and discussing him with others. Now is a great time to engage in this effort. It's been 50 years since his death, one question will inevitably be, "What does King have to teach us today?" The answer is: a great deal.

Read the rest of this piece on our website here.

Implicit bias and the killing of Stephon Clark

Last month's killing of 22-year-old unarmed Black man Stephon Clark by Sacramento police reveals an implicit bias in society and among police that views Black people as dangerous, Haas Institute Director john a. powell is quoted as saying in a San Francisco Chronicle article published over the weekend. Police fired 20 shots, hitting Clark eight times, including six times in the back in his grandmother's yard, because the officers may have believed he had a gun, when he was actually holding a cell phone. “So the police may in fact have thought this person had a weapon. That has nothing to do with the person. It has to do with implicit bias that says every black person is dangerous and therefore I’m prepared, unconsciously, to see a black person as dangerous and with a gun.”

Read the full story here.

Gattaca and the questions of bioethics

The Haas Institute's Disability Studies and Diversity & Health Disparities clusters hosted a March 6 film screening to revisit the 1997 sci-fi movie Gattaca and discuss its impact on the public imagination and how we think about the ethical and social questions around human reproductive and gene-editing technologies. The event was organized by Bioethics Professor Osagie Obasogie and Professor Karen Nakamura of Cultural Anthropology, and took place at the Brower Center in Berkeley, and was followed by a panel discussion on the moral themes of the movie. Read a reflection by the Haas Institute's Takiyah Franklin on the movie and the discussion here.

Kerner conference videos

Videos from the first day of our "Race and Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50 Conference" are now online. The videos include a keynote speech by Haas Institute Director john a. powell with an opening by Oscar Dubon of UC Berkeley's Equity and Inclusion Division, a speech by former housing chief Shaun Donovan, a reading by Bay Area poet Chinaka Hodge, and a panel on housing which includes Ian Haney López, Julian Zelizer, Eric Tang, and Shantel Buggs. We'll be posting all the videos once they become available on this page.

PS: If you attended the conference we would love to receive your feedback! Please take a minute to fill out this survey.

Check out the videos below:

Haas Institute john a. powell in his introduction at #Kerner50
Former housing secretary Shaun Donovan in his #Kerner50 keynote
Bay Area poet Chinaka Hodge reads a new piece at #Kerner50
Panel 1: "America from 1968 to 2018: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t?"

Young Justice Nerds Competition

The Center for Policing Equity is launching a new competition in collaboration with Google and the NFL Player’s Coalition called the Young Justice Nerds. The competition will honor at least one high school team and college student who are using science and technology to advance criminal justice reform. The application deadline is April 9, which consists of a short essay and a video. Watch a video by Anquan Boldin speaking about the competition, and check out the application page for more details here.

In the Media

Rachel Morello-Frosch of the Haas Institute's Diversity and Health Disparities Cluster, is quoted in a New York Times article published this week that explains how segregated neighborhoods are exposed to more pollution than integrated neighborhoods. “In more segregated cities, communities of color and the poor might be less able to have civic engagement power and influence land-use decision making,” Morello-Frosch, who is also a Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, is quoted as saying. The story also links to her research that shows how levels of noise pollution are also higher in segregated cities. Read the New York Times piece here.

Director john a. powell is cited in a column authored by Kriss Deiglmeier, the Chief Executive Officer at Tides, about the concept of bridging. In the piece, titled "2018: A Year to Bridge," Deiglmeier cites an example of bridging in action when powell co-authored a piece with Arthur Brooks, the head of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, about the need to address poverty. Read Deiglmeier's perspective here, powell's article with Brooks here, and a video where powell talks about the importance of bridging here


Friday, April 13: Professor Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago is set to speak on "Reimagining Political Knowledge: Race and the Carceral State," as part of Research to Impact. More info here.


Thursday, April 19: The American Cultures Center is organizing an interactive symposium called "'Breathe For Me, Sing for Me': Hip Hop and the Black Lives Matter Movement," from 5-8 PM at 125 Morrison Hall. It's free and open to the public, and will feature Mistah F.A.B., Donte Clark, BLK MGK, and others. For more click here.

Thursday, April 19: Sheldon Danziger, President of Russell Sage foundation, will be speaking on "Anti-Poverty Programs That Work" in an event co-sponsored by the Haas Institute and others. More details on the talk here.

Friday, April 20: The Haas Institute is sponsoring a talk by Noliwe Rooks, Associate Professor of African American Studies at Cornell University, on her book, titled Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education. View details of the talk here.


Friday, April 27: Authors Damien M. Sojoyner, Assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at UC Irvine, and Sabina E. Vaught, an associate professor in the Department of Education at Tufts University, will discuss their new books and engage the audience in critical questions about race, power, discipline, and the prison and educational institutions in the United States. Find out more here.

Thursday, May 3: The US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty will be hosting a day-long conference, called "Dramatically Increasing Mobility from Poverty," which will include a keynote by Haas Institute Director john a. powell, and talks by Ai-jen Poo, Raj Chetty, and more. Read more here.

See our Events page for latest details on all our upcoming events.
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