Panel Discussion: Racism in America
October 18, 2016 – Tuesday, 8pm
Goldie Taylor is a veteran journalist, opinion writer, and public policy analyst. She is currently editor-at-large at The Daily Beast.
A prior service active duty U.S. Marine Corps broadcaster, Taylor has been a working journalist for nearly 30 years. She got her start as a staff writer at the Atlanta Journal Constitution and as a desk assistant with CBS Atlanta.
The now former television news executive and programming consultant has been featured on nearly every major network—including NBC News, MSNBC, ABC News, CNN and HLN—and she has been a guest on programs such as HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, The Dr. Phil Show, The Steve Harvey Show, and Good Morning America. Then too, Taylor is a frequent guest on a full host of local and national radio shows, including NPR’s All Things Considered and The Barbershop, and has been regularly published in print and digital publications. In recent years, she has written dozens of guest op-ed columns for Salon, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Creative Loafing, St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Grio, Huffington Post, CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Ebony, and Essence among others.
In November 2015, Taylor penned a blockbuster cover story for Ebony Magazine about the legacy of comedic icon Bill Cosby. She was a contributing producer for "CNN Presents: The Atlanta Child Murders” and has been an executive consultant to the presidents of both NBC News and CNN Worldwide.
As a communications executive with both emerging companies and global brands, Taylor was the chief architect of Procter & Gamble’s “My Black is Beautiful” and the marketing force behind CNN’s “Black in America.” A sought-after public speaker, she has addressed audiences at— among others— the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Harvard University, Morehouse College, Emory School of Law, Princeton University, Duke School of Law, National Association of Black Journalists, University of Missouri School of Journalism and The King Center.
Taylor is the author of In My Father’s House (Wheatmark Press, 2005) and The January Girl (Warner Books, 2007/ Hachette Grand Central 2008). She is currently working on her third novel, Paper Gods, and her first non-fiction title, The Devil and Missouri Daniel, a family memoire set in Reconstruction-era Arkansas, which has been optioned as a feature film and television project. She appeared in “Light Skinned Girls,” a documentary released by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and “Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now” co-produced by FGW Productions. Among other television projects, Taylor is also working on her first feature length documentary, #89Blocks, which charts the rise and fall of her home town—East St. Louis, Illinois.
The mother of four grown children and two grandchildren, she is wholly convinced—in her words– that “God has a sense of humor.”
Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal where he worked for more than 20 years writing opinion pieces on politics, economics, education, immigration and race, among other subjects. He’s also a commentator for Fox News, where he’s appeared for more than a decade, and a frequent public speaker.
After joining the Journal in 1994, he was named a senior editorial page writer in 2000 and a member of the Editorial Board in 2005. In 2008 he published “Let Them In,” which argues for a more free-market oriented U.S. immigration policy. His second book, “Please Stop Helping Us,” which is about the track record of government efforts to help the black underclass, was published in 2014. He joined the Manhattan Institute in 2015.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Mr. Riley earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has also worked for USA Today and the Buffalo News. He lives in suburban New York City with his wife and three children.
Morris Dees was born in 1936 at Shorter, Alabama, the son of cotton farmers. As a young boy he worked the fields with blacks, witnessing first-hand social and economic depravation and Jim Crow treatment at its worse.
While at the University of Alabama Law School, he met Millard Fuller. The two formed a highly successful publishing company during their time in law school. After graduation, they moved the business to Montgomery, Alabama. Fuller left the company in 1965 and later founded Habitat for Humanity. Mr. Dees continued the business and also began taking controversial civil rights cases.
Mr. Dees sold his publishing company to a major national firm in 1970 and formed the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with Julian Bond and Joseph Levin. Early Center cases included integrating the Alabama State Troopers and desegregating the Montgomery YMCA. The Center, funded by donations from over 300,000 citizens across the nation, quickly grew into one of America’s most successful and innovative public interest law firms.
In 1980, the Center founded the Intelligence Project in response to resurgence in organized racist activity. The project monitors hate groups and develops legal strategies for protecting citizens from violence-prone groups. A made-for-television movie about Mr. Dees aired on NBC. “Line of Fire” describes his successful fight against the Ku Klux Klan. It included the $7 million precedent-setting judgment against the United Klans of America on behalf of the mother of Michael Donald, a young black man lynched by the Klan in Mobile, Alabama. Wayne Rogers portrayed him in the feature film, “Ghosts of Mississippi,” about the murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers.
Other victories against hate groups include a $6 million judgment that bankrupted the Aryan Nations, a $12.5 million jury verdict against the California-based White Aryan Resistance for the death of a black student and a $26 million verdict against the Carolina Klan for burning black churches.
Klansmen burned the Center offices in 1983. The arsonists were convicted but not before their leader plotted to kill Mr. Dees. More than thirty men have since been imprisoned for plots to harm him or destroy Center property.
To promote acceptance and tolerance, the Center founded Teaching Tolerance in 1990. Over 80,000 schools use the project’s free videos and teaching materials and over 400,000 teachers receive the award winning Teaching Tolerance magazine. The Center has won two Oscars for its tolerance education films and received five Oscar nominations. Mr. Dees believes that it is important to teach tolerance in the classroom as well as fight hate in the courtroom.
Mr. Dees has received numerous awards in conjunction with his work. The U.S. Jaycees chose him as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America for his early business success. Trial Lawyers for Public Justice named him Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1987. In 2009, he was inducted into the Trial Lawyers’ Hall of Fame by the American Trial Lawyers’ Association. The American Bar Association honored him in 2012 with the ABA Medal, the ABA’s highest honor.