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Communications and Media

One-Year Anniversary of Far-Right Rally and Events in Charlottesville

In August 2017, a contested far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., led to injuries, the death of a counter-protester and political fallout for police and elected officials in the city as well as President Donald Trump, whose comments in the aftermath of the events were widely criticized. Where is the nation one year later? What needs to change, policy-wise, to end the growth of white supremacist groups and ideology? A variety of American University experts can help answer these questions, and more, and are available via phone, email, in-studio, or on-campus.

Cynthia Miller-Idriss is a professor of education and sociology and author of The Extreme Gone Mainstream. She can comment on extremism, far-right groups, youth radicalization and violence, and educational interventions. She is the co-principal investigator of a global research network on youth and extremism (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council) and co-chair of a European/North American research network on radicalism and violence (hosted by the Council for European Studies.) The Washington Post, Fortune and Salon have featured Miller-Idriss’ opinion pieces on hate and extremism.

Lara Schwartz teaches in AU’s Department of Government and is the director of the Project on Civil Discourse. She is a frequent commentator on radio and television programs including C-SPAN Washington Journal, WAMU FM’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show, and CNN. Schwartz is available to discuss hate crimes, hate speech, protests, policies affecting racial justice, and the discourse around white supremacy.  

Schwartz said: “In spite of an uptick in hate crimes and continued evidence of race discrimination in housing, lending, and employment, we're not seeing leadership from the federal government to protect people. One year later, the country is no more safe from hateful groups than before. However, the general public is becoming more aware of white supremacy in its everyday forms. As videos of racist incidents have gone viral and the perpetrators have experienced backlash, we are having a national conversation about civility and what it means.”

Sherri Williams is an assistant professor in the School of Communication. Her research lies at the intersections of social media, social justice, reality television, mass media and how people of color use and are represented by these mediums. Williams studies how black people’s use of social media is changing social justice and the entertainment industry, especially television.

Williams said: “One year after Charlottesville, we see white nationalists and white supremacists running for elected office across the country. It is imperative that media, mainstream and ethnic, document and explore the ways in which white supremacy operates. It's a story hidden in plain sight. This resurgence of white supremacy is moving from the fringes. The nation needs journalists to offer context and nuance about what's at stake.”

Carolyn Gallaher is a professor in the School of International Service. She can comment on right-wing extremists in the United States, including domestic militias and the alt-right. Gallaher is the author of On the Fault Line: Race, Class, and the American Patriot Movement and recently published an article in the Public Eye about alt-right attacks against academics (“War on the Ivory Tower”).  

Gallaher said: “The alt-right is trying to normalize racism in everyday places, including churches, schools, universities, and workplaces. Staying quiet is no longer an option. We need to aggressively call out and reject these efforts when we see them.”  

Ibram X. Kendi is the founder and director of AU’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center. He is an expert on race relations, racial inequality, antiracism and the history of racism and racist ideas in America. Kendi is the author of bestselling Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction.