The Summit for Civil Rights, held on November 9 and 10, 2017 at the University of Minnesota Law School, was a powerful convening of people and institutions advocating for racial justice, social inclusion and economic opportunity. Hundreds of delegates, panelists, participants and speakers came from across the country representing organized labor, law, academia, civil rights organizations, the faith community, and local and national government.
The Summit demonstrated how racial disparities and growing economic inequality were interconnected problems in American society, inextricably tied to our racially segregated structures of opportunity and power. The Summit revealed the ways in which many of those structures and institutions (including in housing, criminal justice, education, and employment) sustain and even profit from segregation, poverty and inequality.
The Summit drew on the powerful lessons of the Civil Rights Movement to better reveal the challenges we face today and provide valuable insights into present-day strategies for building the power needed to end America's modern racial apartheid. Moreover, it reminded us how the fight for racial justice and economic opportunity are one and the same, and that only a unified program for both justice and prosperity can build and sustain a powerful multiracial political movement.
In response to these challenges, Summit participants broke into three groups - litigation, legislation and organizing - and took initial steps toward forming a leadership structure to continue the work of the Summit, and advancing its goal of renewing and reinvigorating the Civil Rights Movement. Summit attendees agreed to reconvene in the new year to discuss and take next steps for organizing and for action. It was further agreed that a joint coordinating committee would be formed from among the diverse group of leaders of each of the working groups. You can go to this link to view a report on the Summit, including Summit speakers, photographs and our sponsors.
In the coming weeks, representatives from the committees will be invited to produce a combined draft document outlining the proposed purpose, goals and strategic direction of the Summit for Civil Rights. Participants and allies will be invited to review this document, provide input, and ratify a final draft, preparing for action at a gathering this spring.
Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law
Director, Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity
University of Minnesota Law School