Summit will span month of October to offer an extended spotlight on race equity in education

RALEIGH, NC (September 24, 2020) The Public School Forum of North Carolina, the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, and the Center for Child and Family Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University announced today the third annual 2020 Color of Education *Virtual* Summit, which will include four remote sessions held over the month of October 2020.

While previous one-day summits featured keynote addresses from award-winning writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nikole Hannah-Jones, this year’s sessions will stretch beyond a single-day event to feature a litany of renowned speakers and panelists, allowing for an extended spotlight on the intersection of race, equity, and education. 

“The power of Color of Education is that it brings together people from all over the state and with many different perspectives to develop ideas and strategies to address systemic racial inequities in our education system,” said Dr. Lauren Fox, Senior Director of Policy for the Public School Forum of NC. “We’re excited to be joined by so many brilliant leaders who are doing work in classrooms and communities, in research, and at the policy level to dismantle racism and inequality in North Carolina’s schools.” 

Color of Education’s efforts to connect communities, educators, policymakers, and experts in order to develop approaches for achieving educational racial equity throughout the state is an urgent undertaking that will only be more complex as COVID-19 forces instructors to adapt and experiment with novel class formats.

For centuries, education in America has been unequal. As we experience a global pandemic and the abrupt, mass transition to virtual education, the question is not whether—but how—the effects of this new reality will deepen racial disparities. Thirty-four percent of Black Americans lack access to high-speed internet at home compared to only 21 percent of White Americans; conversely, among young adults, the risk of death from COVID-19 is 5 to 9 times higher for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations. The menu of proposed responses to the present situation will almost certainly result in widening gaps in educational opportunity, access, and outcomes.

These challenges will be at the forefront of the summit’s discussions this year. The October 9th kickoff panel, featuring William A. “Sandy” Darity, Jr., and Keisha Bentley-Edwards of the Cook Center, will highlight how the racial wealth gap and racial health disparities exacerbate the inability to foster educational equity and opportunity. The second event, occurring the following Tuesday on October 13th, will directly address how the ongoing pandemic has affected racial equity in education.

“COVID-19 laid bare the systemic issues that were at the core of inequities in education, and this series takes a necessary and critical examination of the health, wealth and social contexts that have resulted in disparate education outcomes,” said Keisha Bentley-Edwards, Associate Director of Research and Director of the Health Equity Working Group at the Cook Center, and Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine at Duke University. “Ultimately, we are using these discussions to both understand historical factors and to move forward in finding the practice- and policy-based solutions that are at the core of these systemic issues.”

The final two panel discussions on October 20th and October 27th will highlight the connections between schools and policing, and the past, present, and future of North Carolina’s racial education inequities, respectively. 

“Color of Education comes at a pivotal time as we seek to mitigate impacts that COVID-19 is having on inequities that already existed within education,” said Dr. Leslie Babinski, Director of the Center for Child and Family Policy. “We’re excited to bring together a range of stakeholders – including teachers, parents, policymakers, and community members – to engage in these important discussions.”

Interested in attending the 2020 Color of Education Virtual Summit? Visit for more information, including specific session times and registration details.

For media inquiries, please contact Dr. Lauren Fox, Senior Director of Policy, the Public School Forum of NC, at 919-781-6833 x104, or Lucas Hubbard, Communications Specialist at the Cook Center, at (207) 460-8717.

The 2020 Color of Education Virtual Summit will use the Twitter hashtag #ColorOfEducation

Visit us on Twitter: @theNCForum @Dukesocialeq @DukeChildPol

Color of Education is grateful for the support of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Sandra and Peter Conway, Participate Learning, Wells Fargo, the Brady Education Foundation, and LearnPlatform. 

Color of Education

Color of Education is a collaboration between the Public School Forum of NC, The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, and the Center for Child and Family Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. Sandra Conway of Conway and Associates provided key partnership design. Color of Education seeks to build deeper connections across the fields of research, policy, and practice and bring together communities, educators, policymakers, experts and other key stakeholders focused on achieving racial equity in education across the state of North Carolina. The impact of race in education was a central focus of the Public School Forum’s Study Group XVI: Expanding Education Opportunity in North Carolina. The Committee on Racial Equity’s findings and recommendations were published in October 2016. The committee covered issues such as resegregation, teacher diversity, discipline disparity and lack of access to advanced, more rigorous coursework for students of color.


About Public School Forum of North Carolina

Since 1986, the Public School Forum of North Carolina has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of better schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow the Forum on Twitter @theNCForum and visit our website at

About Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University 

The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity is a scholarly collaborative that studies the causes and consequences of inequality and develops remedies for these disparities and their adverse effects. Concerned with the economic, political, social and cultural dimensions of uneven access to resources, opportunity and capabilities, Cook Center researchers take a cross-national comparative approach to the study of human difference and disparity. Considering both global and local shortcomings, Cook Center scholars not only address the overarching social problem of general inequality, but they also explore social problems associated with gender, race, ethnicity and religious affiliation. Follow the Cook Center on Twitter @DukeSocialEQ and visit our website at

About Center for Child and Family Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

The Center for Child and Family Policy pursues science-based solutions to important problems affecting today’s children and families. The Center emphasizes the bridge from research to policy and practice through an integrated system of research, teaching, service and policy engagement. Center research has grown to include an array of projects that touch on critical child and family policy issues. Center faculty fellows include a trio of scholars who focus on the effect of economic distress on child development. Other fellows study early childhood, the development of risky behaviors, childhood mental illness and a wide range of education policy issues including school truancy, charter schools, teacher training and education reform efforts.

Follow the Center for Child and Family Policy on Twitter @DukeChildPol and visit our website at

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