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U of M hosts world conference to examine solutions to racial and ethnic economic inequality

NAACP president scheduled to provide keynote at Oct. 12 conference dinner

September 18, 2012

Leaders of communities of color, researchers, nonprofit leaders and policymakers from across the globe will work in collaboration Oct. 11-13 at the University of Minnesota to examine solutions to racial and ethnic economic inequality.

The U’s Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice will host the three-day international gathering, the fourth “World Conference on Remedies to Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality.” Held in Minneapolis in 1996, Australia in 1998 and South Africa in 2001, the event convenes the world’s top thinkers on economic inequality, aiming to produce practical results that can be applied at the local level.

The conference’s return to Minneapolis coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Wilkins Center, part of the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is scheduled to keynote the Oct. 12 conference dinner, which will commemorate the center's anniversary. Larry L. Palmer, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, is also scheduled to speak.

“Efforts to combat racial and ethnic economic inequality must be grounded on a solid understanding of the underlying causes of the differences,” said Dr. Samuel L. Myers, Jr., director of the Wilkins Center and a national authority on the methodology of conducting disparity studies. “Too little attention has been paid to the fact that traditional solutions to problems of inequality are based on flawed assumptions about the deficient behaviors within communities of color and ignore historical and structural determinants of inter-group inequality.”

Scholars from Brazil, Bulgaria, China, India, Kenya, Korea, New Zealand and Norway will engage community activists from across the United States to explore successful local initiatives. The interaction among community leaders, researchers and policymakers will add a practical dimension, says Myers, a pioneer in the use of applied econometric techniques to examine racial disparities.

The three-day conference is free and open to the public, but online registration is required at www.roywilkins.umn.edu. Visit the site for the schedule and a list of presenters and panelists.

Cost for the Oct. 12 anniversary dinner is $125 per person, with separate registration required online at http://z.umn.edu/worldconferencedinner.

About the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice
Founded in 1992, the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice builds on the legacy of Roy Wilkins, a 1923 graduate of the University of Minnesota and former chief executive of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It is the first endowed chair established in a major public policy school named after an African American. Located at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, the mission of the Roy Wilkins Center is to study and formulate solutions to problems of racial and ethnic inequality. Dr. Samuel L. Myers, Jr., an economist, is chair holder and director of the center.

About the Humphrey School of Public Affairs
The University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs ranks among the top professional schools of public affairs at public universities in the country. The school is widely recognized for its role in examining public issues and shaping policy and planning at the local, state, national and international levels, as well as for providing leadership and management expertise to public and nonprofit organizations. The school offers five graduate degrees, including a master of development practice degree in international development that welcomed its first cohort in August 2010. For more information, visit www.hhh.umn.edu.

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