The World Conference on Remedies to Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality in 2012 was the fourth conference initiated by the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice. Earlier meetings were in Minneapolis in 1996, in Australia in 1998, and in South Africa in 2001. The conference returned to Minneapolis this year to harness the wisdom and research of the world's top thinkers on economic inequality to produce practical results that can be applied at the local level.

On the 20th anniversary of the Roy Wilkins Center, leaders of communities of color, academics, nonprofit leaders, and public policymakers from across the globe worked in collaboration for three days to examine successful, localized solutions to racial and ethnic economic inequality, asking:
    •    Does it work?
    •    If so, why?
    •    If not, why not?
    •    And will it work for other groups in other countries?

4th World Conference on Remedies to Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality was sponsored by the Northwest Area Foundation and Minnesota Philanthropy Partners.

Conference Topics

  • What is the trade-off between continual growth and persistent inequality?
  • Does the concentration of poverty in a specific place trump factors of race and ethnicity?
  • Will a race-neutral remedy produce an outcome as great as a race-conscious remedy?
  • Does a targeted business enterprise program increase the number of dollars going to people of color?
  • What does anti-discrimination legislation across the world have in common?
  • Can personal identity be maintained without the context of culture and tradition?
  • What do we know about children of color who are successful in school against all odds?
  • Can income equality be achieved?

Policy Implications of the World Conference

Traditional approaches to policy analysis, developed for the majority population, do not factor in the structural differences that exist between communities of color and majority-group communities. Communities of color, therefore, are at a disadvantage when conventional policy analyses are undertaken. One example is evaluation. Non-profit evaluation does not align automatically with academic evaluation, which often entails randomized trials or sophisticated methods of matching control and experimental groups. Nevertheless, it is academic evaluation that will produce the evidence to support local remedies in the face of skepticism by policy makers and decision makers. Widespread, respected tools of policy analysis, designed for the majority population, must be adjusted or reevaluated when examining the causes of inequality to be certain that their application is reaching the people who have the problem.

About Roy Wilkins & the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations & Social Justice

Roy Wilkins, a 1923 graduate of the University of Minnesota, spent 46 years with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), including 22 as its top executive. During his tenure, the NAACP led the nation into the Civil Rights movement and spearheaded efforts that became significant civil rights victories, including Brown vs. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice was founded in 1992 as a joint effort of the University of Minnesota and the Roy Wilkins Foundation to carry on his legacy. It is the first endowed chair established in a major public policy school named after an African American. Samuel L. Myers, Jr., an economist, is chairholder and director. Professor Myers is a national authority on the methodology of conducting disparity studies and a pioneer in the use of applied econometric techniques to examine racial disparities.

Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations & Social Justice

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
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