Take, for example, honorees Dr. William Darity, Jr. and Dr. Darrick Hamilton. Their work has largely dispelled the myth that African-Americans are poorer than whites because of a lack of ambition or know-how. Their trailblazing research helped to establish what is now widely known as the Racial Wealth Gap – an economic hole dug for blacks over the centuries they have yet to climb out of.
Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy in Duke University’s Sanford School, and Hamilton, an associate professor of Economics and Urban Policy and director of the Milano Doctoral Program at The New School, used data from a variety of sources, including the Census Bureau and Federal Reserve, to disprove the notion that lack of ability was the cause of blacks’ economic woes.
“There is a narrative much more accurate about the structural nature of this society and the systemic ways which it has restricted, constrained, and, in some cases, destroyed the lives of black people,” said Darity, who will make the case for reparations in a book he his writing with his wife, Kirsten Mullen.
Hamilton, who started as Darity’s doctoral student, became emotional while praising his former teacher and current colleague. He also praised a small band of fellow researchers, including CGPS Board Member Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi, who began having conversations about wealth inequalities more than a decade ago. Their efforts have come a long way, Hamilton said.
Racial Wealth Gap trailblazer and CGPS Board Member Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi.
“When you have presidents who now use the words ‘Racial Wealth Gap’ when that wasn’t even in the public discourse, I’d say that’s a major accomplishment,” he said.
Former NAACP President Ben Jealous accepted an award on behalf of Freda Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor, whose Kapor Center for Social Impact has a stellar record of assisting underrepresented entrepreneurs.
“Sixty percent of our 130 start-ups have a founder who is black, Latino, or female,” said Jealous, a Kapor Capital partner in charge of operations in Baltimore. (The main office is in Oakland, Calif.)
Jealous highlighted a few of the start-ups the Kapor Center has aided, including Pigeonly, which provides an affordable means for inmates and their loved-ones on the outside to communicate. Pigeonly CEO Frederick Hutson spent 51 months behind bars for drug offenses.
“Every day Frederick was in prison he wrote a different business plan; the one that stuck with him, though, was his plan to disrupt the ratchet that is calling home from prison,” Jealous said.
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) was also honored for, as Dr. Rockeymoore put it, being “a stone-cold advocate for STEM education.”
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Johnson, who is serving her 13th term in Congress, is the ranking member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the first African-American and first woman to hold that lofty position.
Rep. Johnson was unable to attend the ceremony due to a House vote. Audra Jackson, the congresswoman’s special assistant, accepted the honor.
Google's Chanelle Hardy speaks.
Chanelle Hardy, Strategic Outreach and External Partnerships director at Google, a sponsor of the Summit, also praised the honorees and vowed that Google, too, will work to ensure equality and inclusion in the technological present and future.
“That’s why we are investing in work like the work of the Center for Global Policy Solutions: to ensure that as these technological shifts happen, people of color are our partners and our leaders,” she said.
Watch the awards ceremony in its entirety.