Race, Gender, and the Media in the 2008 Elections

Friday, September 26, and
Saturday, September 27, 2008

St. John's University
School of Law
8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens NY 11439

History has already been made in the 2008 U.S. presidential primary elections and the outcome of the general elections may set new precedent. Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive presidential nominee for a major party, is the first African American ever to achieve that standing. Likewise, Senator Hillary Clinton broke records as the first woman to run competitively in the presidential primary elections of major party in pursuit of its nomination. Governor Bill Richardson, a Latino, similarly sought the nomination of a major party, although he withdrew his candidacy soon after the primaries began. Finally, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney heads an all-female, all-minority ticket for the Green Party.

Many other democracies, such as the United Kingdom, Argentina, India, Israel, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Liberia, have or already have had women heads of state, and other countries, like Peru and Bolivia, have elected presidents who are members of racial or ethnic minority groups. The United States, however, has never elected a woman or a racial or ethnic minority as president and has historically discriminated against both women and minority voters and candidates. The 2008 U.S. presidential elections will determine whether the U.S. joins the ranks of some of these other democracies and opens a new chapter in American politics. This election cycle will also continue to occur under the intense gaze of robust media coverage. Indeed, issues of race, gender, and the media have come to define the 2008 U.S. presidential elections.

This interdisciplinary symposium is comprised of a series of engaging and expert panel discussions, featured dialogues, and addresses, including a keynote address by:

Founder and Managing Director
Brazile and Associates, LLC

Ms. Brazile is the first African American to lead a major presidential campaign, a frequent CNN contributor, and Chair of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute (VRI). Other speakers include renowned scholars, practitioners, activists, government officials and political commentators. For a full list of speakers, click here.

The MAKING HISTORY Symposium will investigate the subjects of race, gender, and the media in the 2008 elections by examining these issues independently, in relation to one another, and within the broader context of law and policy. The symposium will be held at St. John's Queens, New York campus on September 26-27, 2008. The topics will include the following:

Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in the 2008 Elections and Beyond
Perspectives on Gender in the 2008 Elections
The Role of the Media in Shaping Perceptions of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the 2008 Elections
The Intersectionality of Race, Gender, Media and the Political Process
Election Law and Policy in the 2008 Elections
A Dialogue on Elections and the Public Sphere
A Dialogue on Legal Construction of Race, Gender and Identity in the 2008 Elections
Developments in New Technology and Media
The conference is being organized by Professor Leonard M. Baynes, the Director of The Ronald H. Brown Center, and Professor Janai S. Nelson, Senior Fellow of The Ronald H. Brown Center. Professor Baynes previously served as a scholar-in-residence at the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") during the administration of William Kennard. In this capacity, Professor Baynes worked exclusively on media diversity issues. Since joining the St. John's law faculty in 2002, he has written several path-breaking law review articles examining these critical issues and proposing innovative and cutting-edge regulations to address underrepresentation in the media. Professor Nelson is the former Director of Political Participation of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and has litigated numerous voting rights cases, including arguing en banc before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Hayden v. Pataki, a felon disenfranchisement challenge. She teaches election law and professional responsibility at St. John's and has published law review articles on race and the law.

For additional information, please contact Karyn DiDominici, Manager of Special Events at (718) 990-1950 or vie e-mail at [email protected].