Conference to confronteconomic inequality

Sara Goo

Representatives from as far as Sri Lanka, Australia and Malaysia will come to the University to discuss solutions for economic inequality as part of a four-day conference that begins today.
The World Conference on Remedies to Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality aims to open discussion among national and international academians, business representatives, activists and students. The keynote speakers, panel discussions and entertainment cover a wide area of subjects, from sociology to economics.
“The conference is only a tiny piece of a larger agenda,” said Samuel Myers, who organized the conference. He is also head of the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice at the University. The Wilkins Center is sponsoring the event.
Myers said the topic of the conference is relevant to recent political issues such as affirmative action, school desegregation and illegal immigration.
Most people aren’t aware the United States is not the only country with such difficult racial problems. Myers’ yearlong research in Liberia exposed him to many people who said they look to the United States for guidance on race relations.
Julia Blount, a community programmer for the center, said the conference has an international focus because “we realize that (economic inequality) is a problem in multicultural societies across the world.”
Minnesota specifically has a reputation for promoting community programs to reduce racism and economic inequality, Myers said.
Myers added that many other countries have extremely volatile race relations compared with the United States, but, “the United States has more of the ingredients for finding long-term solutions.”
In addition to academic discussions, Native American musicians Joanne and Diane Shenandoah, whose music was featured on television’s “Northern Exposure,” will perform tonight at Cowles Auditorium and actor Edward James Olmos, who starred in the movie “Stand and Deliver,” will speak about his career Saturday evening at the Ted Mann Concert Hall.
More than 200 people are expected to attend the conference, Blount said. The fee for attending, including meals, is $199.