Historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad on Reimagining the Police, in the Past and Future

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Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Margo Jefferson speak on stage during "A More Perfect Union: Obama and The Racial Divide," featuring Congressman Keith Ellison, Alicia Garza, Margo Jefferson, and Khalil Gibran Muhammad during The New Yorker Festival on October 9, 2016 in New York City.  (Larry French/Getty Images for March On Washington Film Festival)

"Defund the police" may be a new rallying cry, but according to Harvard historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad, black reformers, scholars and activists have been calling out systemic racism in law enforcement for at least 100 years. We'll talk to Muhammad about historical attempts to root out the use of excessive force, racial profiling and other unconstitutional policing practices as well as the laws, policies and attitudes that have stood in the way of reform. We'll also discuss whether we, as a nation, are ready to accept an alternate vision of policing that does not, as he writes in his book "The Condemnation of Blackness," protect white lives at the expense of black ones.


Khalil Gibran Muhammad, professor of history, race, and public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School