By Jamal Watson

NEW ORLEANS—More than 3,500 students, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the nation are gathering here this week to engage in critical discussions about race relations on their college campus in particular, and in society in general.

This year’s meeting of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) in Higher Education comes a day after comedian Roseanne Barr was fired from her sitcom following a racist tirade on Twitter directed at Valerie Jarrett, who served as a senior adviser during the Obama administration.