Race in America Lecture Series

Mon, 24 February, 2020 5:00pm

Join the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement for the inaugural Race in America Lecture Series featuring a Scholar Panel Discussion and Fireside Chat.


5 pm: "When They See Us: Exploring the Causes and Impact of Wrongful Convictions and Accusations of Youth of Color"


  • Roger A. Fairfax, Jr., Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law; Founding Director, Criminal Law and Policy Initiative


  • Angela Jordan Davis, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
  • Kristin Nicole Henning, Agnes N. Williams Research Professor; Professor of Law; Director, Juvenile Justice Clinic; Associate Dean for Clinics and Experiential Learning
  • Renee McDonald Hutchins, Dean and Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
  • Michael Pinard, Francis & Harriet Iglehart Professor of Law and Co-Director, Clinical Law Program, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

6:30 pm: A Fireside Chat with Raymond Santana 

CNN Legal Analyst, Best Selling Author, and SiriusXM Host, Laura Coates will take the stage alongside Raymond Santana, 1/5 of the "Exonerated Five" for a Fireside Chat

7:30: Reception

About Mr. Santana

On the night of April 19, 1989, a young woman was brutally attacked and raped in Central Park. When she recovered, she had no memory of the assault. Five boys, including Raymond Santana, were tried and convicted of the crime in a frenzied case that rocked the city. At the time, the defendants were between 14 and 16 years of age. They became known collectively as “The Central Park Five.”

On December 19, 2002, the convictions of the five men were overturned. The unidentified DNA in the Central Park Jogger Case – unlinked to any of the five – had finally met its owner, a convicted murderer and serial rapist who confessed. Santana had spent five years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Now known as “The Exonerated Five,” the group has been committed to advocating and educating people on the disparities in America’s criminal justice system. The investigation of this conviction has raised questions regarding police coercion and false confessions, as well as the vulnerability of juveniles during police interrogations.

Mr. Santana tweeted award-winning director Ava DuVernay about the story of the Central Park Five, which led to it becoming the subject of the hit Netflix series, When They See Us. The four-part series not only became one of Netflix’s most-watched shows, but it also earned the streaming giant its most Emmy nominations with a total of 16. 

Mr. Santana now works closely with the Innocence Project and is a member of the New York City Justice League. He owns the clothing company Park Madison NYC, named after his home city of New York.

About Ms. Coates

Laura Coates is a well-respected attorney, commentator, law professor, author, and radio talk show host. A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Ms. Coates graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the University of Minnesota Law School before beginning her legal career in private practice. She practiced law in Minnesota and New York handling cases ranging from intellectual property litigation and First Amendment issues to Defamation and Media law. Called to public service, she transitioned from private practice to the United States Department of Justice, thriving as a federal prosecutor. She served as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice during the Bush and Obama administrations, specializing in the enforcement of voting rights throughout the country. She also served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, prosecuting a myriad of violent felony offenses including drug trafficking, armed offenses, domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.

Ms. Coates’ depth of experience and broad expertise has earned her acclaim across all media platforms. Easily branded a constitutional expert, her diversified expertise is both timely and topical. She is lauded across the globe for her persuasive objectivity and ability to break down complex and emotionally-charged topics plainly and without partisanship. Her opinions and analysis can be found in national publications such as the Washington Post, USA Today, and are prominently featured on CNN, where she has long served as a Legal Analyst.

Recognizing the dire need for increased police accountability and improved police-community relations, she wrote the bestselling 2016 book, You Have the Right: A Constitutional Guide to Policing the Police. In the book, Ms. Coates removes the legalese and helps ordinary citizens know and understand their 4th, 5th and 6th Amendment rights.

In 2017, she launched the daily eponymous talk show, “The Laura Coates Show,” on SiriusXM’s UrbanView channel. On her interactive show, Ms. Coates “edutains” an engaged audience with a lively discussion on the intersections of politics, law, and pop culture in a way that highlights her intelligence, humor, charisma and … antics.

In addition to being a CNN Legal Analyst and daily talk show host, Ms. Coates is an adjunct professor at GW Law and routinely speaks across the country on civil rights, social justice, economic empowerment, and leaps of faith.

Ms. Coates currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two children.

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