Archive | August, 2014

Two noteworthy commentators on the Ferguson, MO, situation

21 Aug

The Public Broadcasting System’s Newshour gave extensive coverage on Thursday, August 14, to the civil unrest in Ferguson, MO, following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black youth by a white police officer.  Two commentators dealt with the national significance of the incident as a reflection of racial and economic tensions:

  • Eric Liu is an author, educator, former White House speechwriter, and founder of Citizen University, which promotes civic activism, and
  • Jelani Cobb is an associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. He is also a contributor to “The New Yorker.”

A recording of the television broadcast of the segment and a transcript of the spoken words are available at

The two commentators have each done important work.  Jelani Cobb’s recent articles for the New Yorker, including four insightful ones based on his conversations with people in Ferguson, are accessible from the New Yorker website,

The top page of Eric Liu’s Citizen University’s website has three rotating slogans:


We promote & teach the art of powerful citizenship

Society becomes how we behave

This is a time for citizen problem-solving


The Citizen University’s programs include a quarterly meetings of “a national network of catalytic leaders, from across the political spectrum and many domains – immigrant rights, veterans advocacy, civics education, voting reform, tech in government, arts and culture, worker organizing, corporate citizenship, and more” and annual conference described as follows:

Each year hundreds of Americans gather at our annual national conference for two days of hands-on learning, inspiration and action with the country’s most creative thought leaders, change makers and culture shapers. You may not agree with all the speakers or all the participants — and that’s the point.

We believe citizenship is about showing up for community and country — and we believe anyone can be a great citizen. This is a pivotal moment for citizens from left, right, and center to reclaim responsibility for solving problems together. That means seeing cross-partisan solutions where we can agree and where we can’t, it means learning to have better, more productive disagreements. It means learning from each other. That’s why Citizen University exists. We hope you’ll join us.

The Citizen University website also features a Sworn-Again America Project.