A special U.N. human rights investigator will visit the United States this month to probe racism, an issue that has forced its way into the race to secure the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
The United Nations said Doudou Diene would meet federal and local officials, as well as lawmakers and judicial authorities during the May 19-June 6 visit.
"The special rapporteur will...gather first-hand information on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," a U.N. statement said on Friday.
His three-week visit, at U.S. government invitation, will cover eight cities -- Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Race has become a central issue in the U.S. election cycle because Sen. Barack Obama, the frontrunner in the battle for the Democratic nomination battle, stands to become the country's first African American president.
His campaign has increased turnout among black voters but has also turned off some white voters in a country with a history of slavery and racial segregation.
Diene, a Senegalese lawyer who has served in the independent post since 2002, will report his findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year.