LEWISBURG — Calling for a bold 21st Century economic bill of rights, Darrick Hamilton, guest lecturer in Bucknell University's ongoing Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives and Cultures' Spring speaker series, expressed a vision that would address racial justice and economic reform.
Introduced by Bucknell professor Nina Banks, Hamilton, she said, "is one of our nation's leading economists."
Hamilton has risen to prominence by advising top 2020 candidates on racial justice policies and progressive reforms that were once deemed "too bold" for Washington, including Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
Hamilton, who is based at Ohio State University, addressed a Trout Auditorium crowd of more than 250 people — students, university staff, and community residents.
The speech explored "black radical thought," he said, as a potential counter to the historical and contemporary problem of racism.
Wealth, he noted, leads to political power. If you want to send your children to an elite school, wealth allows you to do that. "The real power of wealth is what you can do for people," he said. The top 10 percent of households have over 75 percent of the nation's wealth. The bottom 50 percent of the nation's household has 1 percent of the nation's wealth.
Race becomes an even bigger predictor of somebody's wealth position and class itself. The typical black household has about 10 cents on the dollar than a typical white household.
That train of thought segued easily into a deeper discussion of the economic disparities between white Americans and African Americans at all levels and how it has been so for decades.
In that sense, he has called for reparations.
The economic Bill of Rights that he offers would be "implemented in a racially inclusive way. Public policy should encompass all people." Economic justice, he said, should include reparations, and erasure of all college debt. There should be universal access to health care, schooling, financial services, and capital.