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​Panelists for "CBS News: 50 Years Later, Civil Rights"

CBS News Live Experiences confirmed on Monday several of the participants in a live, interactive symposium exploring the history of the civil rights movement and the continuing struggle for equality, titled "CBS News: 50 Years Later, Civil Rights."


To be moderated by CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer, the event will be held at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City on July 24, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT, and carried live on both the Smithsonian Channel and online at

Powered by Microsoft's Bing Pulse, the event invites viewers and audience members with mobile devices, tablets or computers to vote on poll questions and provide real-time feedback during the webcast, creating a true second-screen experience.

The panel will include newsmakers from the worlds of politics, entertainment and sports. Among the names confirmed to attend:

Harry Belafonte

The actor-singer who exposed America to world music has spent his life challenging and overturning racial barriers across the globe.

Belafonte met a young Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on King's historic visit to New York in the early 1950s. The two developed a deep and abiding friendship, and Belafonte played a key role in the civil rights movement, including the 1963 March on Washington.

In 1985, disturbed by war, drought, and famine in Africa, Belafonte helped organize the Grammy-winning song "We Are the World," a multi-artist effort to raise funds for Africa. Belafonte was also active in efforts to end apartheid in South Africa and to release Nelson Mandela.

He has served as the cultural advisor for the Peace Corps and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and was honored as an Ambassador of Conscience by Amnesty International.

Recently, Belafonte founded the Sankofa Justice & Equity Fund, a non-profit social justice organization that utilizes the power of culture and celebrity in partnership with activism. It is a space for artists to contribute their talents to build awareness and confront the issues that negatively impact marginalized communities.

Timothy White
Whoopi Goldberg

One of a very elite group of artists who have won the Grammy, the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, the Emmy, a Daytime Emmy and a Tony, Whoopi Goldberg is equally well-known for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of children, the homeless, human rights, education, substance abuse and the battle against AIDS, among others.

Goldberg helped launched the "Comic Relief" TV specials which benefit charities aiding the homeless. She has been a supporter and fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Human Rights Campaign, among many other charities and social justice organizations.

She currently serves on the board of the children's charity Garden of Dreams, and is a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations.

Goldberg has been honored with multiple NAACP Image Awards, and received the Vanguard Award from Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for her continued support of the gay and lesbian community.

Rob Northway
Rosie Perez

An Academy Award-nominated actress and Emmy-nominated choreographer (for "In Living Color"), Rosie Perez continues to shine in her varied roles in front of the camera and behind. She made her film debut in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," and also appeared in "Fearless," "Night on Earth" and "White Men Can't Jump." She has starred on Broadway in "Frankie & Johnny in the Clair De Lune."

Perez has been a vocal activist for many causes, especially those relating to AIDS and inner city youth. She has spoken at several AIDS conferences (including at the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Institute) and hosted numerous AIDS fundraisers. She has been honored by the AIDS Action Foundation (now AIDS United), Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and the Latino Commission on AIDS. She has also served as the National Spokesperson for Comite Noviembre.

Perez is also head of the Artistic Board for the Union Arts Partnership, an arts education organization that brings dance, theater, film, poetry, and fine arts to students in Harlem, the Bronx and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

At the 2002 San Juan Cinemafest, Perez received the Raul Julia Award for her support of the Puerto Rican, Caribbean and international film communities.

James Brown Host of NFL Today on CBS Photo Credit: John P. Filo ©2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved John P. Filo/CBS
James Brown

James Brown serves as host for the CBS Television Network's NFL pre-game show, "The NFL Today, and earlier this year was named Special Correspondent for CBS News, contributing to "60 Minutes," "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Evening News."

No stranger to charitable efforts, Brown has hosted the PULSE Awards, which honors NFL players for their outstanding community service. He also has worked on behalf of the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation, the Neimann-Pick Disease Foundation, the HollyRod Foundation, and Special Olympics D.C., among numerous other charities and foundations.

He is a co-founder and principal of the Brown Technology Group, and is a founding partner of the Washington Nationals.

Brown has also partnered with the Verizon Foundation to lead a national dialogue to address their work in domestic violence prevention.

John Lewis

Often called "one of the most courageous persons the civil rights movement ever produced," John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls "The Beloved Community" in America. He has been called "the conscience of the U.S. Congress," and Roll Call magazine has said, "John Lewis . . . is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber."

Born in 1940 to a family of sharecroppers in Alabama, he attended segregated public schools. Inspired by the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis joined the civil rights movement, organizing sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville. In 1961, he participated in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South, risking his life many times merely by sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow laws in the South.

From 1963 to 1966, Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was largely responsible for organizing student activism. Lewis coordinated efforts to organize voter registration drives and community actions during the 1964 "Freedom Summer" project in Mississippi. He was attacked and beaten by state troopers during the "Bloody Sunday" protest in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965.

Lewis later became Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP), adding nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter named Lewis to head ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council, where he was an advocate for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District ever since.

John-Pierre Isbendjian
Taylor Branch

Taylor Branch is an American author and public speaker best known for his three-volume narrative history of the civil rights era, "America in the King Years." The trilogy's first book, "Parting the Waters," won the Pulitzer Prize for History and numerous other awards in 1989. Two successive volumes also gained critical and popular success: "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65," and "At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968."

Branch's 2009 memoir, "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President," chronicles an unprecedented eight-year project to gather a sitting president's comprehensive oral history secretly on tape.

Branch returned to civil rights history in his latest book, "The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement" (2013).

Branch has also spoken on doctrines of nonviolence with prisoners at San Quentin as well as officers at the National War College. He has presented seminars on civil rights at Oxford University and in sixth-grade classrooms.

As a journalist he was worked for the Washington Monthly, Harper's, and Esquire. He also taught history courses at Goucher College and at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Evan Wolfson

Long-time gay and lesbian civil rights leader Evan Wolfson lives in New York City, where in 2003 he launched Freedom to Marry, a campaign to win marriage equality nationwide. Wolfson now serves as Freedom to Marry's President.

He has been called "the godfather of gay marriage" by Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

From 1989-2001, Wolfson worked at the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund. He was co-counsel in Hawaii's landmark Baehr case for the freedom to marry, which launched the current global marriage equality movement, and contributed his expertise to cases in Vermont and Massachusetts which expended the rights of gay couples.

In other cases, Wolfson championed gay and lesbian military personnel fighting for the freedom to serve; gay parents wishing to adopt children and preserve visitation rights; and workers seeking equitable job benefits and medical coverage.

A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School and a former Peace Corps volunteer, Wolfson has taught as an adjunct professor of law at Columbia University and Rutgers University Law Schools, and served as a senior fellow at The New School's Wolfson Center for National Affairs.

Kwaku Alston
Jason Collins

In April 2014 Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins was named one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time Magazine, after becoming the first openly gay athlete to compete in one of the four major pro sports leagues in America.

An All-American while at Stanford University, Collins was named to the All Pac-10 First Team, and was a first-round NBA draft pick in 2001. Over the course of 12 seasons he played with six teams (New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards).

At the end of the 2012-13 seasons, Collins came out as gay, and become a free agent. Upon signing with the Brooklyn Nets in February 2014, Collins became the first openly gay athlete in the NBA.

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