Multicultural Millennium Conference 2016

Breaking the Class Ceiling: Economic Inequality in the U.S.

Event Details

September 22-23, 2016
Wright State University
Student Union

The Multicultural Millennium Conference aims to address contemporary issues of social justice and diversity, particularly how they affect education.

Over the last several decades, the inequality of economic outcomes has widened sharply in the United States.  Ensuring equal access to economic opportunity is widely accepted as a desirable goal.  However, there is little consensus regarding exactly what is meant by equality of opportunity and the appropriate role of public policy in promoting it.  

Keynote Speakers

Mia Birdsong

Birdsong headshot

Mia Birdsong has spent more than 30 years fighting for social justice and liberation as captured in her popular TED talk. She is the co-director of Family Story, an organization working to expand our understanding of what makes a good family and challenging us to rethink our approach to supporting all families, whatever their structure, in ways that recognize their strengths and knowledge. Birdsong was previously vice president of the Family Independence Initiative. Her writing has been published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Huffington Post, and Salon. Her work is about empowering the socioeconomically disadvantaged and changing the way in which most of us view the poor.

Birdsong spent time in publishing, learning PR at Harper’s and as new media editor of Book-of-the-Month Club’s inaugural foray on the internet. She has attended births as a midwifery apprentice and studied folk medicine. She brings to her work a decade as a volunteer and organizer for the prison abolition movement Critical Resistance and another 10 years as a trainer and educator in the fields of youth development and health education. Birdsong co-founded BirthCircle, a grassroots collective making pregnancy and birth choices more accessible, and Canerow, a resource for people dedicated to raising children of color in a world that reflects the spectrum of who they are. 

She is a graduate of Oberlin College and an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute. She sits on the Board of Directors of Forward Together and the North Oakland Community Charter School.

Richard Wilkinson

Wilkinson headshot

Richard Wilkinson studied economic history and the philosophy of science at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology. His research drew attention to widening social class differences in death rates, and led him to ask the UK secretary of state for social services to set up an “urgent government inquiry” into how these health inequalities could be reduced.  The result was the Black Report (1980), which stimulated research on health inequalities internationally.

Since that time, Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research on the social determinants of health and on the societal effects of income inequality. His books and papers have drawn attention to the tendency for societies with bigger income differences between rich and poor to have a higher prevalence of a wide range of health and social problems. In the last few years, he has given hundreds of conference addresses and media interviews round the world, including at WHO, the EU, OECD, and the World Bank.

Richard is professor emeritus of social epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School, honorary professor at University College London, and visiting professor at the University of York. He wrote The Spirit Level with Kate Pickett, a best seller now available in 24 languages. It won the 2011 Political Studies Association Publication of the Year Award and the 2010 Bristol Festival of Ideas Prize. He cofounded The Equality Trust (with support from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust). In 2013, Wilkinson received Solidar’s Silver Rose Award and received Community Access Unlimited’s Humanitarian of the Year award. In 2014, the Irish Cancer Society awarded him the Charles Cully Memorial medal.


Past Conferences