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The Future Reset: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

Rebecca Dixon & Eddie S. Glaude Jr. on racial wealth inequality on Monday, Dec. 14. (Video: The Washington Post)
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The typical Black family in the United States has just one-tenth the wealth of the typical White one. This consequential inequality persists despite continued efforts by Black Americans to build wealth throughout the country’s history. Nearly 250 years of slavery followed by relentless oppression, discriminatory policies and deliberate exclusion from opportunities such as the GI Bill and key aspects of the New Deal have made wealth accumulation for the Black population virtually impossible. This discrimination has had cumulative, multi-generational consequences that directly impact inheritance. But it also profoundly affects education, employment, income and health.

Washington Post Live brings together prominent thought leaders and scholars on Monday, Dec. 14 at 2:00 p.m. ET to discuss the complex and intersectional factors that have allowed the Black-White wealth gap to endure and identify remedies – both cultural and policy-based – that address racial wealth inequality today.

Highlights

Priscilla Almodovar, CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, announced Enterprise is launching "Equitable Path Forward," a $3.5 billion initiative investing in Black-led organizations with corporate America's help. Almodovar noted that Netflix is the first investor. (Video: Washington Post Live)
John Hope Bryant, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, said the Biden administration has called him to present a plan for how they can contribute to closing the racial wealth gap. “I think that they should have a massive focus on minority small business development." (Video: Washington Post Live)
Princeton University’s Eddie S. Glaude Jr. said he wants the Biden administration to be bolder in its cabinet picks. "I am all for competence, especially in the aftermath of what we’ve experienced over the last four years. I worry...that this is in some ways an effort to return to what was...Given the scale of the problems we face, I want the Biden administration to be bolder...We need to respond to the scale of problems at scale." (Video: Washington Post Live)
National Employment Law Project’s Rebecca Dixon says the labor market is “intensely segregated.” "What that means is that Black and Brown folks are really steered and segregated to low-paying jobs, and jobs that are dangerous, and in industries that have lost a lot of jobs during this pandemic.” (Video: Washington Post Live)

Guests

Priscilla Almodovar, CEO, Enterprise Community Partners

Priscilla Almodovar is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. She also serves as chair of the Enterprise Community Investment board of directors. Priscilla works with partners, funders, investors, residents and employees to build on the strength and breadth of Enterprise’s work nationwide. Under her leadership, Enterprise implemented a new five-year strategic plan and has continued to strengthen our long standing commitment to healthy communities through ground-breaking programs, like Health Begins with Home, racial equity initiatives and industry-leading impact investment tools and resources tailored to communities across the country.

She joined Enterprise from JPMorgan Chase, where, as a managing director, she led two national real estate businesses for their commercial bank - one in commercial real estate and the other in community development. In these roles, she led teams of real estate professionals responsible for partnering with for-profit and nonprofit entities, local and state governments and other organizations to finance projects across the country. As head of Chase’s community development group, Priscilla was instrumental in JPMorgan Chase’s award-winning commitment to support Detroit’s economic recovery.

Prior to joining JP Morgan Chase, Priscilla was the president and CEO of New York state's housing finance and mortgage agencies, where she is credited with transforming the way they worked and linking them with health care and economic development agencies, in addition to leading them during the Great Recession. New York state was the largest issuer of state housing bonds in the country all three years of her tenure. Priscilla has also served as the co-chair of the New York State Health Innovation Council, an advisory body of the New York State Department of Health, and previously led health care, housing, environmental and criminal justice policy for a gubernatorial campaign.

Priscilla is among the very top Latinas in U.S. business today. Fortune named her one of the “50 Most Powerful Latinas,” and Hispanic Business named her one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” and one of their “25 US Corporate Elites.” She has also received special recognition by the United Hospital Fund for her work to create stable, healthy communities. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University and a J.D. from Columbia University.

John Hope Bryant, Chairman and CEO, Operation HOPE

American Banker magazine 2016 “Innovator of the Year”, Inc.’s “The World’s 10 Top CEOs” (honorable mention), and one of Time magazine’s “50 Leaders for the Future” named in 1994, John Hope Bryant is an American entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and prominent thought leader on financial inclusion, economic empowerment and financial dignity.

Bryant is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE, Inc. the largest not- for-profit and best-in-class provider of financial literacy, financial inclusion and economic empowerment tools and services in the United States for youth and adults; chairman and chief executive officer of Bryant Group Ventures and The Promise Homes Company, the largest for-profit minority-controlled owners of institutional-quality, single-family residential rental homes in the U.S., and co-founder of Global Dignity.

The last five U.S. presidents have recognized his work, and he has served as an advisor to the last three sitting U.S. presidents, from both political parties. He is responsible for financial literacy becoming the policy of the U.S. federal government. In January 2016 Bryant became the only private American citizen to inspire the renaming of a building on the White House campus, when the U.S. Treasury Annex Building was renamed the Freedman’s Bank Building. The Freedman’s Banks’, founded by President Abraham Lincoln, legacy has become the narrative of the work of Operation HOPE—to help all people in the ‘Invisible Class’ become fully integrated into our nation’s economy. In April 2017, a historical marker, also inspired by Bryant, to honor the final flight of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis on April 3, 1968, was installed at the Memphis International Airport 49 years to the day that Eastern Flight 381 arrived from Atlanta.

Rebecca Dixon, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project

Rebecca Dixon is executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP). NELP is a respected leader in federal workers’ rights advocacy and the go-to resource for state and local worker movements, providing unmatched policy, legal, and technical assistance. As executive director, Rebecca leads NELP’s work to build and contribute to a strong workers’ rights movement that dismantles structural racism, eliminates economic inequality, and builds worker power. Rebecca’s motivation for advancing workers’ rights and commitment to economic justice is deeply rooted in her lived experience growing up in rural Mississippi at the intersection of race, class and gender—characteristics that have long defined our ability to participate in our democracy and economy.

Prior to becoming executive director, Rebecca served on NELP’s Executive Management team as chief of programs where she led the general management of all program areas, including strategy, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Rebecca was a leader in the organizational restructuring of NELP, implemented in 2017, which improved organizational effectiveness and ensured authentic integration of an anti-racist framework to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, both internally and externally.

Rebecca founded and led NELP’s Breaking Barriers Program that focuses on improving job access, wages and working conditions for Black workers in Mississippi and Louisiana. Rebecca previously served as a New York State Executive Fellow in the Office of the Governor where she worked on labor and civil rights policy. Rebecca earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from Duke University and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., African American Studies Department Chair, Princeton University

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is an intellectual who speaks to the complex dynamics of the American experience. His most well-known books, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, take a wide look at black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States, and the challenges our democracy face. He is an American critic in the tradition of James Baldwin and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In his writings, the country’s complexities, vulnerabilities, and the opportunities for hope come into full view. Hope that is, in one of his favorite quotes from W.E.B Du Bois, “not hopeless, but a bit unhopeful.”

He is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies, a program he first became involved with shaping as a doctoral candidate in Religion at Princeton. He is the former president of the American Academy of Religion. His books on religion and philosophy include An Uncommon Faith: A Pragmatic Approach to the Study of African American Religion, African American Religion: A Very Short Introduction and Exodus! Religion, Race and Nation in Early 19th Century Black America, which was awarded the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Book Prize. Glaude is also the author of two edited volumes, and many influential articles about religion for academic journals. He has also written for the likes of The New York Times and Time Magazine.

Known to be a convener of conversations and debates, Glaude takes care to engage fellow citizens of all ages and backgrounds – from young activists, to fellow academics, journalists and commentators, and followers on Twitter in dialogue about the direction of the nation. His scholarship and his sense of himself as a public intellectual are driven by a commitment to think carefully with others in public.

Glaude’s most recent book, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, was released on June 30, 2020. Of Baldwin, Glaude writes, “Baldwin’s writing does not bear witness to the glory of America. It reveals the country’s sins, and the illusion of innocence that blinds us to the reality of others. Baldwin’s vision requires a confrontation with our history (with slavery, Jim Crow segregation, with whiteness) to overcome its hold on us. Not to posit the greatness of America, but to establish the ground upon which to imagine the country anew.”

Some like to describe Glaude as the quintessential Morehouse man, having left his home in Moss Point, Mississippi at age 16 to begin studies at the HBCU. He holds a master’s degree in African American Studies from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University. He began his teaching career at Bowdoin College. In 2011 he delivered Harvard’s Du Bois lectures. In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Colgate University, delivering commencement remarks titled, “Turning Our Backs” that was recognized by The New York Times as one of the best commencement speeches of the year. He is a columnist for Time Magazine and a MSNBC contributor on programs like Morning Joe, and Deadline Whitehouse with Nicolle Wallace. He also regularly appears on Meet the Press on Sundays. Glaude hosts the podcast AAS 21, recorded at Princeton University in Stanhope Hall, the African American Studies department’s home.

Content from The Rockefeller Foundation

This content was produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom was not involved in the production of this content.

In a segment presented by The Rockefeller Foundation, Otis Rolley, SVP of the Foundation's U.S. Equity & Economic Opportunity Initiative, and Melissa Bradley, Founder of 1863 Ventures, discuss BIPOC businesses and the obstacles they face in and out of the coronavirus pandemic. (Video: Washington Post Live)

Otis Rolley, SVP, U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

Otis Rolley joined The Rockefeller Foundation in 2019. Immediately prior to joining the Foundation, Otis served as a North America Managing Director for 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative of the Foundation. There he provided urban resilience technical assistance and portfolio management for 29 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Prior to his work at 100RC, Otis served as CEO of Newark, New Jersey’s economic development corporation.

A true urbanist, Otis’s career has been dedicated toward advancing economic and community development in cities, leading organizations in the for-profit and non-profit private sectors. His 20 years of experience also includes serving in various leadership positions in the public sector. He has held cabinet roles with 5 different mayors in three large U.S. cities. He has been a chief of staff managing a $2 billion budget; city planning director for America’s largest independent city; and he has served as the first deputy housing commissioner for the 5th largest public housing and community development agency in the U.S.

Otis has a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University.

Melissa Bradley, Founder, 1863 Ventures

Melissa L. Bradley is a co-founder of venture-backed Ureeka, a community where small businesses gain unprecedented access to the expertise needed to grow their business. The Ureeka mission is to democratize economic opportunity by enabling community and by reducing the cost and risk associated with growing a small to medium business (SMB). She is also founder and Managing Partner of 1863 Ventures, a business development program that accelerates New Majority entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth. In this role she created a community of over 10,000 New Majority entrepreneurs in three years. Melissa is a Venture Partner at NextGen Ventures and serves an advisor the New Voices Foundation and New Voices Fund, as well as the Halcyon Fund. She is also a member of the Square & Forbes Small Business Advisory Team, as well as the Target Accelerators Entrepreneurs Advisory Council. Melissa is the former Co-Chair, National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and was recently named one of The Most Entrepreneurial Women Investors in 2018.

Melissa is a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University where she teaches impact investing, social entrepreneurship, P2P economies and innovation. She recently received The Ideas Worth Teaching Award which celebrates exceptional courses that are preparing future business leaders to tackle society’s largest challenges and create a more inclusive, just, and sustainable version of capitalism. She is also a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Sidecar Social Finance, a social impact agency that provides impact investing advisory and capital services to individuals, institutions, and social enterprises.

Melissa currently serves as board chair for My Way to Credit (MWTC) and board member for AEO. She is a Founding Advisor to the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs as well as a Senator with the Board of Governors at Georgetown University.

Melissa’s educational background includes graduation from Georgetown University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the School of Business, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing from American University in 1993.

Interviewed by Jeanne Meserve, Journalist, CTV News

Jeanne Meserve is a homeland security expert and analyst, moderator, and award-winning journalist. She is currently a Security Expert for Canada’s CTV News. While a correspondent and anchor at CNN and ABC Jeanne earned her profession’s highest honors, including two Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award. She also contributed to two CNN Peabody Awards.

Jeanne is a member of the Homeland Security Experts Group and the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, and serves on the board of the non-profit Space Foundation.

She moderates discussions on topics ranging from technology and security, to medicine and the environment. Clients include AtlanticLIVE, the Munich Security Conference, the Aspen Security Forum, the Halifax International Security Forum, and the global conferences of the International Women’s Forum.

At CNN Meserve created the homeland security beat, covering intelligence, law enforcement, cyber, aviation, border and port security. She anchored worldwide coverage of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination and the death of Princess Diana, and was the first to report on the devastating flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was a key member of the CNN political team during the 1996 and 2000 elections. While at ABC News she covered the State Department and reported from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

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