2020 Summit for Civil Rights – Is America Ready for a 2nd Reconstruction? A 3rd “Founding”?


In the second panel of Day 2, “Is America Ready for a 2nd Reconstruction? A 3rd “Founding”?” Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, and Dr. Barbara Ransby, historian, writer, and activist, opened with some remarks. Foner outlined the historical background of the Reconstruction period and the fundamental changes to the Constitution brought about by grassroots movements. Dr. Ransby talked about having the “political, intellectual, and moral courage to confront the limits of racial capitalism” in order to confront white supremacy. Algernon Austin from Demos and Reverend Willie Francois III then joined the conversation and these panelists, moderated by Michelle Burris from the Century Foundation, discussed an ambitious racial justice and economic opportunity agenda that strengthens existing civil rights laws, delivers on the promises of the civil rights movement and the unmet demands of the March on Washington, and answers the call for justice that is being heard across the nation today. The discussion centered around institutional structures of segregation that limit and thwart opportunity in housing, schools, and access to economic and political power.