Barack Obama's success so far in the 2008 election cycle has fostered optimistic rhetoric in mainstream media about race relations in the United States.
But does Obama's candidacy transform Martin Luther King Jr.'s American dream into a reality?
A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that Americans are sharply divided by race on their views of Senator Obama and the state of race relations.
In addition, with an increased presence of other minority groups, issues regarding race in political and social life are no longer black and white.
What role does race play in the 2008 election and beyond?
Can America ever truly be a color-blind society?- The Century Foundation
Melissa Victoria Harris-Lacewell is an American writer and political scientist and Associate Professor of Politics and African American studies at Princeton University. She received her B.A. in English from Wake Forest University, her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and an honoris causa doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School.
She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought on the methods African Americans use to develop political ideas through ordinary conversations in places like barbershops, churches, and popular culture. The work was awarded the 2005 W.E.B. DuBois book award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
Harris-Lacewell's writings have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Crain's Chicago Business and Newsday. She has provided commentary for NBC News, Fox News, Showtime, HBO, Black Enterprise, National Public Radio and other radio and print sources.
Jane Junn is Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University.
She holds a joint appointment with the Eagleton Institute of Politics. She received her A.B. from the University of Michigan, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her primary interests are political participation and elections in the U.S., political behavior and attitudes among American minorities and immigrants, theories of democracy, survey research, and social science methodology.
Her research has been supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, CIRCLE, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Spencer Foundation, and the Educational Testing Service.
In 1998 she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Hanguk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Korea. She has been a member of the 2004 Social Science Research Commission on National Elections following the contested 2000 election, and a member of a National Academies of Science panel evaluating the redesign of the U.S. Naturalization test.
Her latest book is New Race Politics in America: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Politics. Her book, Education and Democratic Citizenship in America won the 1997 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book published in political science in 1996.
Basil Smikle Jr.
Basil Smikle Jr. is the founder of Basil Smikle Associates, a full-service consulting interest based in New York.
His firm relies upon his political and policy background as well as comprehensive partnerships with individuals across the country to provide a one-stop shop for political strategy, policy analysis, and government affairs.
The firm also provides comprehensive public relations strategies in difficult political and media environments. He has also consulted on a number of campaigns in New York State and elsewhere in the Country.
Basil was previously the State Director for the Lieberman for President Campaign in New York. Among his many responsibilities, he was the political and administration leader for the effort to elect Senator Lieberman from the State.
Basil graduated from Cornell University in 1993 where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations, concentrating in Labor Law. During his undergraduate studies, Basil received a Community Service award from the University for his work at WVBR-FM, an upstate New York radio station. Basil was both the stationâ€™s producer and on-air personality bringing music, news and talk show programming to Upstate New York.
In 1996, Basil graduated from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs with a Masters Degree in Public Policy, concentrating in Urban Development. He received the Columbia University Departmental Fellowship and the Public Affairs Research Fellowship.
Even though overt racism may not be present, Basil Smikle, a political consultant who has worked for both Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton, cautions that people need to listen for racially charged code words and euphemisms in coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign.
Smikle believes code words such as "qualify" and "experience" implicitly express racial undertones.