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An American Dilemma for the 21st Century - LIVE STREAM LINK

October 30, 2019
10:00 AM - 7:30 PM


Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 515 Malcolm X Boulevard New York, NY 10037

Event Type: 

An American Dilemma for the 21st Century

Wed, October 30, 2019

10:00 AM – 7:30 PM EDT

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

515 Malcolm X Boulevard

New York, NY 10037

Register Here

Watch the live stream here

Seventy-five years ago, Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal published the influential work An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. For Myrdal and his collaborators, the central dilemma was the unresolved tension of the “American creed”—the celebration of ideals of equal opportunity and democracy in the face of deep and enduring racial discrimination and inequality. The dilemma has changed, but it has not receded.

Given the increased visibility of racial antagonism and violence over the last several years, coupled with the reemergence of Black-led protests in the aftermath of #BlackLivesMatter, this anniversary of An American Dilemma offers an occasion to revisit and reassess the “American creed.”

This conference will explore the multifaceted force of anti-Black racism in the United States, and the fissure between opportunity and exclusion it has facilitated—by many indicators, a chasm little changed (or worsened) since 1944. Treating the mid-1940s as both a culmination point and a baseline for present-day assessments of American democracy through the lens of race and racism, the day’s discussions seek to catalyze new insights and provoke debate.

The conference will also mark the launch of a new online platform that will greatly expand the access that scholars and the general public have to these materials. It will increase the visibility of the “hidden figures,” those scholars who worked alongside Myrdal, but whose roles are lesser known. The Carnegie-Myrdal Study of the Negro in America research memoranda archive, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, contains the output of a stellar team of social scientists who worked with Myrdal to study “the Negro problem” on behalf of Carnegie Corporation of New York. This archive makes available lines of inquiry that did not find their way into the final draft of the book.

Please join the Social Science Research Council, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, and Columbia University for a day-long conference featuring:

  • Karida L. Brown, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Anthony S. Chen, Northwestern University
  • Obie Clayton, Clark Atlanta University
  • Ingrid Gould Ellen, New York University
  • Amanda Geller, New York University
  • Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University
  • Christopher Paul Harris, Northwestern University
  • Fredrick C. Harris, Columbia University
  • Kerry L. Haynie, Duke University
  • Jonathan Jackson, WeShouldDoItAll (WSDIA)
  • Gerald D. Jaynes, Yale University
  • Glenn C. Loury, Brown University
  • Katherine Meckel, University of California, San Diego
  • Maribel Morey, Clemson University
  • Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Harvard University
  • Brendan O'Flaherty, Columbia University
  • J. T. Roane, Arizona State University
  • William M. Rodgers III, Rutgers University
  • Patricia Rosenfield, Rockefeller Archive Center
  • Rajiv Sethi, Barnard College
  • Jeanne Theoharis, Brooklyn College
  • Myriah Towner, Independent Digital Curator and Filmmaker
  • Cally Waite, Social Science Research Council
  • A keynote conversation will follow with:
  • Jelani Cobb, Columbia University
  • Phillip Atiba Goff, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Alondra Nelson, Social Science Research Council and Institute for Advanced Study

Conference sponsors:

  • Social Science Research Council
  • Program for Economic Research, Department of Economics, Columbia University
  • Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  • Institute for the Study of Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University
  • Institute for New Economic Thinking
  • Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University
  • Center on African American Politics and Society, Columbia University
  • Russell Sage Foundation

This program is presented as part of the Social Science Research Council’s Inequality Initiative, a series of programs and projects that bring innovative social science analysis to bear on our understanding of the roots and consequences of unequal participation in political, economic, and social systems across the globe.


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