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Reconstructing and Rethinking Social and Racial Justice Across the Atlantic

On November 16, 2020, AUWCL, in cooperation with the AU Transatlantic Policy Center and the Antiracist Research & Policy Center, held a discussion with Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and two Members of the European Parliament, Maria Walsh (European People’s Party Ireland) and Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana (European Green Party, Germany), discussing reconstruction and racial justice post Covid-19. AUWCL Professor Lia Epperson and School of International Service Professor Garret Martin moderated the discussion. Joe Dunne, the Director of the European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington, D.C. introduced the discussion.

The year 2020, with all its major challenges, also dramatically underlined the deeper - if lesser understood - connections between American and European societies. The global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have shone a powerful and sobering spotlight on the enduring structural social and racial inequities that confront both sides of the Atlantic. The panelists observed that some developments in the U.S., such as the killing of George Floyd, spurred discussion in Europe on racism, and constitute an opportunity for active measures against racism. The panelists also referred to the challenges for diverse representation in democratically elected bodies and in the European Institutions. They discussed policy measures that could be taken to address the issue of diversity, and underlined the importance of education in this field.

Watch the entire discussion here.


Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana is a co-president of the European Parliament Intergroup on Anti-Racism and Diversity, vice-chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Development and a substitute member to the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. Her main areas of focus are international partnerships, gender based violence and anti-racism. In 1998 she helped to found "FORWARD-Germany", an organization dedicated to eradicating FGM. From 2005 - 2019 she was a city councillor in her hometown of Erlangen. In 2009, she was awarded the Helene Weber Prize for her political commitment. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Francophone literature and is a former high school teacher.

Congressman Jamie Raskin is the US Representative for Maryland’s 8th District. He was a professor of constitutional law for more than a quarter-century at American University Washington College of Law before entering Congress and was a three-term State Senator in Maryland, where he served as Senate Majority Whip. Congressman Raskin is currently serving his second term on the Judiciary, House Oversight, and House Administration Committees. He also serves on the Rules Committee and the new Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and is an elected Member of the House Democratic Leadership Team.

Maria Walsh is a Fine Gael Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Ireland since 2019. MEP Walsh was born in Boston, MA, lived in New York City and Philadelphia and is a Member of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with the United States. Maria has advocated for the inclusion of younger people in politics, which spurred her to run for office herself. She is a firm believer that it is crucial for politicians to be representative of their electorate, with greater representation of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, LGBTI people, and equal gender parity.

This event was co-organized by the American University Washington College of Law, the AU School of International Service, the Transatlantic Policy Center, the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, and the European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington, DC.