Thursday, June 22, 2017

National Archives Hosts National Conversation on Rights and Justice: Building a More Perfect Union

From our friends at the National Archives Foundation...

The National Archives and the National Archives Foundation concluded the sixth and final event in its “National Conversations” series today in Washington, entitled “National Conversation on Rights and Justice: Building a More Perfect Union.”

The event focused on some of the most critical issues facing our nation today with leaders from across the country discussing subjects ranging from national security, to responsibilities of citizens, to the court system and beyond. The event featured remarks and panel discussions with activists and scholars, including U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn (SC-6), former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, former Ambassador Stuart W. Holliday, former Director of National Intelligence Ambassador John Negroponte, CEO of the National Civil and Human Rights Center Derreck Kayongo, and journalist and CEO of the Starfish Group Soledad O’Brien.

"It is fitting to hold the culminating National Conversation here, the permanent home of the Bill of Rights," said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. "This has been an extraordinary year of dialogue and debate on the complicated issues of class, education, gender, politics, race, religion, and sexual orientation. While there have been historic strides on many fronts, we must continue to talk openly, and to work to form a more perfect union."

The “National Conversation on Rights and Justice” in Washington, DC is presented in part by AT&T, Ford Foundation, Seedlings Foundation, and the National Archives Foundation.

“AT&T is proud to support today’s ‘National Conversation’ in Washington, DC, as we have in a number of cities nationwide over the past year,” said Denis Dunn, President, AT&T Maryland, DC, and Delaware. “We’re thrilled to join the National Archives Foundation and leaders from across the country to reflect on our shared history of rights and justice in America and to reconfirm our commitment to our employees, our customers, our communities and our nation.”

The National Archives Foundation has created an online portal where visitors can watch an archived video of the event and engage in discussions via social media. Follow the conversation using #RightsAndJustice and see archived video and further details on the series at:

Last night, the evening started with a greeting by Archivist Ferriero and AT&T Maryland, D.C. and Delaware President Dunn. U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Tanya Chutkan delivered opening remarks on “Civil Rights and the Role of an Impartial Judiciary,” Journalist, author and National Archives Foundation Board Chair and President A’Lelia Bundles then moderated a discussion with panelists including Rep. Clyburn, Mr. Kayongo, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Legacy Project Board President Courtland Cox, and American civil rights activist Joyce Ladner entitled, “Reflections on Civil and Human Rights Movements: From 1960 to Today.”

Today, National Archives Foundation Executive Director Patrick M. Madden and AT&T Regional Director for External and Legislative Affairs LaTara Harris provided opening remarks, then journalist and author Ray Suarez moderated a panel entitled, “Individual Freedom and National Security in an Age of Terrorism,” with participants including former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Homeland Security Paul Rosenzweig, Associate Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law Jennifer Daskal, and U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now Amie Stepanovich.

Secretary of Education DeVos then delivered remarks by video, followed by a discussion entitled “Enlightened and Engaged: Education for Democracy?” moderated by U.S. News and World Report Education Reporter Lauren Camera, with panelists: Chief, Assessment Division Reporting Branch, National Center for Education Statistics at the Department of Education Daniel McGrath, Vice President of Programs for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Peter Bonilla, and President of the National Center for Social Studies Peggy Jackson.

Later today, a third and final panel entitled “The Responsibility of Citizens in the Modern Era” will be moderated by NPR journalist Michel Martin, with panelists including President of the American Civil Liberties Union Susan N. Herman, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights Vincent Warren, Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation David Azerrad, and Assistant Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School K. Sabeel Rahman.

The closing keynote discussion, entitled “The United States of America: A Democratic Nation in an Open Global Society” will be moderated by Ms. O’Brien with former Secretary of Defense Cohen, Ambassador Negroponte, and former Ambassador Holliday.

Held from spring 2016 to summer 2017, the “National Conversation” series explored topics related to the continuing and often complicated issues of rights in our modern era, including: immigration rights/reform, civil rights and individual freedom, and women’s rights and gender equality.

• The first event, entitled “Civil Rights and Individual Freedom” was held in Atlanta in May 2016, and focused on civil rights and justice. The event featured a Q&A between former President Jimmy Carter and CEO of the National Civil and Human Rights Center Derreck Kayongo.

• The second event, entitled “LGBTQ Human and Civil Rights,” was held in Chicago in July 2016, and focused on the challenges to and future of civil and human rights for the LGBTQ community. The event featured a keynote by noted author and poet Richard Blanco.

• The third event, entitled “Women’s Rights and Gender Equality” was held in New York in October 2016. The event focused on women’s rights, gender equality, and advocacy, and featured panel discussions and remarks by national figures including U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and award-winning broadcast anchor and CEO of Starfish Media Group Soledad O’Brien.

• The fourth event was held in Los Angeles in November 2016, entitled “Immigration: Barriers & Access.” The event focused on past and current immigration barriers, and featured panel discussions and remarks by thought leader Julissa Arce, President of the U.S.-Japan Council Irene Hirano Inouye, and author and cultural critic Jeff Yang.

• The fifth conversation, entitled “Educational Access and Equity,” was held in Dallas in March 2017, focused on the most critical educational issues in front of our nation today, and featured panel discussions and remarks by author and journalist Cokie Roberts.

The “National Conversation” series ran in conjunction with Amending America, open now in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. The exhibition showcases both successful and unsuccessful attempts to amend the Constitution as part of the National Archives’ commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

About the National Archives:
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, so people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and online at

About the National Archives Foundation:
The National Archives Foundation is an independent nonprofit that increases public awareness of the National Archives, inspires a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage, and encourages citizen engagement in our democracy. The Foundation generates financial and creative support for National Archives exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives, introducing America’s records to people around the U.S. and the world. Learn more at