CBS News asked noted figures in the arts, business and politics about their experience in today's civil rights movement, or about figures who inspired them in their activism.
Anna Deavere Smith, actress, playwright ("Fires in the Mirror," "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992")
Can America achieve a "post-racial" society? How?
Science suggests that we are only a tiny bit different racially, but that's a theory. From the looks of living patterns in any major city, we live as though we are quite different. The suggestion that we might be in, or one day have, a post-racial society is not realistic. However, it is realistic to strive towards economic opportunity, a health care system that fights chronic disease -- both mental and physical -- and an education system that is ethically committed to teaching everyone.
It is also realistic to build a more empathic society. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Ed. Some say our schools are more segregated than ever. This ruling helped move us out of an era of segregation, but its effect is limited because rules and laws can only do so much. The will and heart of the people is required. That is what animates and brings life to rule and law.
Martin Luther King, Jr. called segregation "an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement." We still bind ourselves up in that existential expression.
I propose two antidotes: One is policy and practice that moves us towards economic equity; the other is much more radical -- I propose love as a remedy.
For more info: