January 21, 2015, BY Kathryn Kopchik

Soledad O'Brien's Black in America series begins Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University.

The event is free and open to the public as seating permits. It is presented by the Bucknell Student Lectureship Committee, the Campus Activities and Programs center, and the Bucknell Student Government.

O'Brien will moderate the panel discussion at Bucknell with Antonio French, 21st Ward alderman in St. Louis, Mo.; economist, author and political commentator Julianne Malveaux; Chuck D from Public Enemy via Skype; and Carmen Gillespie, Bucknell English professor and director of the Griot Institute for Africana Studies. A meet-and-greet opportunity will be held following the panel discussion.

"Black in America is about Americans talking about the uncomfortable issue of race, about opening the floor to new perspectives, problems and the powerful experiences of regular people," said O'Brien. "This is a forum for the conversation America is ready to have — why do so many black Americans fear the very people that are supposed to protect them?"

Black in America 2015, which brings the issue of police brutality to college campuses, gathers academics and experts, students, and community members of all races and politics to discuss their personal stories of how policing impacts their lives.

The award-winning journalist and philanthropist presents a detailed examination of the facts behind community policing, racial profiling, controversial crime reduction tactics, and arrest quotas. The event includes videos that show how a war between civil rights and crime reduction ‎is unfurling on America's streets.

The multi-city tour gives audiences from Miami to Houston to Massachusetts an inside look at the latest installment of O'Brien's Black in America documentary series: Black & Blue. The gripping hour aired on CNN just as protests erupted on American streets.

The story begins with shocking exclusive footage of Eric Garner choked to death in New York City, then uses graphic videos and incisive interviews to show how the lives of young men are fractured by aggressive policing. One is a Latino man who is beaten by police when he stops to watch them make a random arrest, even as cameras roll. The other is a young man feeling the emotional pain of being stopped and frisked by officers 100 times for no apparent reason. The documentary film also shares the perspective of black NYPD officers who believe the "stop and frisk" tactic fights crime and keeps their communities safe.

After the Bucknell event, the tour will cross the eastern and central United States to conclude at Florida International University in Miami on Feb. 25. Other local events are scheduled for Penn State University on Feb. 11, and Bloomsburg University on Feb. 12. The official tour routing is available on www.iamtheconversation.com.

To view the official Black in America: Black & Blue trailer, click here. To view the official Black in America 2015 Tour trailer, click here. For more information, visit www.iamtheconversation.com.