Distributed January 4, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Tracie Sweeney

The Bridge over the Racial Divide

William Julius Wilson will deliver MLK Jr. Lecture Jan. 26

Sociologist William Julius Wilson will discuss “The Bridge over the Racial Divide” when he delivers Brown University’s fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2000, in the Salomon Center for Teaching. The public is invited.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — William Julius Wilson, one of the nation’s most influential sociologists and a leading authority on poverty and race relations in America, will deliver Brown University’s fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2000, in the Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green. Wilson’s lecture, titled “The Bridge over the Racial Divide,” is free and open to the public.

Wilson is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. Throughout his distinguished career, his research has addressed the impact of inequality and poverty on racial and ethnic relations, family structure and joblessness, as well as the role of public policies in both alleviating and exacerbating these problems.

His newest book, The Bridge over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics (University of California Press, 1999), reflects this scholarship. In it, Wilson argues that as long as middle- and working-class groups are fragmented along racial lines, they will fail to see how their combined efforts could change the political imbalance and promote policies that reflect their interests. He advocates a cross-race, class-based alliance of working- and middle-class Americans to pursue policies that will benefit them rather than the rich. These policies include full employment, some protectionism in international trading, programs to help families and workers in their private lives, and a reconstructed “affirmative opportunity” program that benefits African Americans without antagonizing whites.

Wilson also is the author of Power, Racism, and Privilege (1976), The Declining Significance of Race (1979), The Truly Disadvantaged (1987), and When Work Disappears (1996).

A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992, Wilson is past president of the American Sociological Association and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Education. In June 1996 he was named by Time magazine as one of America’s 25 most influential people, and in 1998 he was awarded the National Medal of Science.