Panels explore the intersection of race and public policy on first day of Breaux Symposium

By Meagan Collman

The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs held Day One of the 2017 Breaux Symposium on Wednesday, April 19. The event was held in the Manship School of Mass Communication’s Holliday Forum.

Wednesday’s panels started with the discussion topic, “Manship School Community Resilience Study.” The discussion was presented by Manship faculty members Shaniece Bickham, Diane Francis, Michael Henderson, Martin Johnson and Nathan Kalmoe. They discussed race relations across Louisiana and presented findings from their research projects. This included the presentation of survey results on racial attitudes in Louisiana, as well as an analysis on the credibility of the media with regard to coverage of Alton Sterling and the deaths of the Baton Rouge police officers during the summer of 2016.

Following, Manship faculty member Lance Porter introduced the “Create Lab Final Project Presentation: Dialogue on Race Louisiana” panel. The presentation was done by students in Porter’s capstone class who have been working on a social media campaign plan for Dialogue on Race Louisiana (DORLA).

Manship faculty member Erin Coyle organized the third panel discussion of Wednesday’s Breaux Symposium, “Cold Case Project: Successes and Future.” Manship doctoral student Minje Li, alumni Andrea Gallo and Wilborn P. Nobles III, and Manship Professional-in-Residence and Director of the Cold Case Project Jay Shelledy were the panelists. Shelledy and his students discussed working on the Cold Case Project and their experience reporting on unsolved Civil Rights era murders.

The fourth panel, “Race and Public Policy” was organized by Manship faculty member Josh Grimm and covered how race permeates every aspect of our lives - a social construction that carries significant, real-world consequences. Each panelist discussed race as it relates to various areas of public policy. The panel featured moderator Mary Campbell, associate professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University; Kenneth Fasching-Varner, associate professor at Louisiana State University who discussed education; Shaun L. Gabbidon, distinguished professor at Pennsylvania State University in Harrisburg who discussed criminal justice; Jackelyn Hwang, assistant professor of sociology at Stanford University who discussed segregation; Lori Latrice Martin, associate professor of Sociology at Louisiana State University who discussed wealth; Srividya Ramasubramanian, associate dean for Climate & Inclusion of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University, who discussed media; Holley Wilkin, associate professor of Communication at Georgia State University, who discussed health; and Ismail White, associate professor of Political Science at George Washington University, who discussed politics. Each panelist related their focused topic to the greater issue of race as an influencer in the making of public policy decisions.

East Baton Rouge parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome gave the keynote address. She was introduced by LSU President King Alexander. Broome discussed her experience as a public servant and her political journey, which includes being the first woman to hold the leadership position of Pro Tempore in the Louisiana House and Senate.