What a long strange trip it’s been. Others have said it in more clever ways, and with deeper analysis, but 2020 is turning out to be both the year we never wanted to see, and a year that has laid bare our deepest challenges, and will present opportunities to make America better than we’ve ever been.
The pandemic, economic crisis, a continuing political maelstrom… And across and intertwined in it all, a recognition that racial equity is at the core of so very many of our challenges. This work – around equity and race in America – is defining work of our time, and work that DCF is in for the long haul.
It’s for these reasons that we are welcoming Wes Moore as our 2020 Building Opportunity speaker.
DCF’s Building Opportunity speaker series began in 2018 with Robert Putnam, at which point we announced our commitment to focusing on the tragic opportunity gap in America. We promised to keep our attention on the need for a society where all members can flourish. We followed that up with Jim and Deborah Fallows, who traveled the U.S. talking with people who are rebuilding their communities.
And now Wes Moore. He’ll be talking about his hot-off-the-presses book, Five Days. Wes, a Baltimore native, Rhodes scholar, former White House Fellow, and now CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, writes in this book about the aftermath of the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. He tells the story through the eyes of eight people from vastly different walks of life in the city, from business executives to police officers to protestors and family members.
When we reached out to Wes last fall, we discussed our desire to focus our opportunity gap on a specific discussion of race. We thought we’d talk about his book The Other Wes Moore. I won’t describe it here, but it’s a fabulous book, and one that forces us to consider the thin line that often separates lives that are successful, and lives that are not. But then Wes pointed out that his new book would be coming out this summer. And it’s about a police killing, and racial injustice, and people trying to do something about it. It couldn’t be timelier.
Because what we’re seeing in the COVID-19 crisis is that people of color are affected in much higher numbers that white people. We’re seeing more people of color in jobs that keep them squarely in the cross-hairs of the coronavirus. And while these times affect all of us, the greater challenges for Black and brown people are part of our reality, one that DCF is committed to addressing.
This will be an important discussion. Please join us. You can do so in two ways.
First, again we have books to give out to Book Circles. We urge you to read the book, talk about it, and consider where we go from here.
And then join us on November 19 as Wes talks about the book, and the realities of America today. We’re finalizing the details for that day But we think you’ll find it worthwhile.