Panel of Civil Rights Leaders Hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Cite Ways to Overcome America's Legacy of Racism and Promote Racial Equity for All

Aug 26, 2013, 11:08 ET from W.K. Kellogg Foundation


WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A broad representation of the nation's leading civil rights leaders today discussed the legacy of racism in America and the challenges ahead during a forum commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington that was hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF).

Held at the Newseum and moderated by TV personality, Carolyn Sawyer, the esteemed panel included representatives from white civic engagement groups and Latino, African American, Asian American, Native American and faith-based organizations. The civil rights leaders discussed the long struggle for equality, assessed the effects of conscious and unconscious biases and noted that with the rapidly changing demographics of the country there is a pressing need to provide equitable opportunities so that all of America's children can thrive.

The two-hour event entitled, "'No Lie Can Live Forever:' Healing America for Our Children," was broadcast live on C-SPAN and available via webcast by BET.  The quote, "No Lie Can Live Forever," comes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March 25, 1965 speech following the Selma to Montgomery March. Dr. King used the slogan to assure marchers that freedom would be coming soon—ironically a sentiment that many leaders are still expressing five decades after the height of the civil rights movement. During today's discussion, a clearer picture did emerge of what civil rights leaders believe the nation must do to move forward and increase equitable opportunities for a brighter future for all children.  

"The country must truly understand the complexity of our history and the central role of racism in creating that history," said Dr. Gail Christopher, WKKF vice president-program strategy. "At the heart of the issue is the fact that most of the children born in this country today are children of color. By finally addressing the fundamental barriers to opportunity, a more prosperous and powerful future for this great nation will be realized. But we must acknowledge that these barriers are largely the result of centuries of belief in a false hierarchy of the human family, or racism. We must find the collective will to face this historic and contemporary reality and work together, as a nation, to overcome the destructive consequences of an antiquated idea. We can do this and we must, for our children and our future.''

One panelist, Rinku Sen, president and executive director of the Applied Research Center, talked about the movement toward positive change in the country.

"We are definitely at the brink of something," Sen said. "I hope that it is a racial justice movement, one that builds on the legacy of civil rights while bringing crucial new elements to our political and social lives. We have a chance to explore fundamental questions like the nature of racism, what to do with the variety of racial hierarchies across the country, and how to craft a vision big enough to hold together communities who are constantly pitted against one another."

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League Inc., noted that as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, there must be an acknowledgement of the progress made, but also recognition that there is hard work left to do to fully recognize the dream that gave purpose to those marchers.

"Now, as in 1963, we are faced with growing income inequality, high unemployment, urban and rural poverty, disparities in education, health and criminal justice, even race-based barriers to the right to vote," Morial said. "Finally ridding ourselves of these obstacles to true equality is what gives us purpose in 2013, and underscores why this is not simply a time of commemoration, but more important, a time of continuation."

Joining Sen and Morial as panelists were:

  • Kathleen Ko Chinpresident and chief executive officer of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
  • Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project
  • Ralph Everett, president and chief executive officer of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Inc.
  • Alvin Herring, director of training at the PICO National Network
  • Benjamin Jealous, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP
  • Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians
  • Delia Pompa, senior vice-president, programs for the National Council of La Raza
  • Miles Rapoport, president of Dēmos: A Network for Ideas and Action
  • Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council

The panel is part of WKKF's America Healing initiative, which works with hundreds of organizations in communities across the country, in an effort to build an understanding of how racial injustices of the past create inequities for today's children. Throughout its more than 80-year history, WKKF has supported communities seeking to create conditions that improve the life outcomes of vulnerable children. The organizations participating in the discussion are key partners in America Healing.

WKKF launched America Healing in 2010 to support programs that promote racial healing and address racial inequity, with the goal to ensure that all children in America have an equitable and promising future. For more information, visit

BET webcasting of the event can found at:

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create the conditions where vulnerable children can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

SOURCE W.K. Kellogg Foundation