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Chicago Urban League Invites the Public to Submit Ideas on Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

Chicago Urban League

The Chicago Urban League is asking Chicago-area residents to share their ideas for closing the racial wealth gap. The call to action came during the organization’s 2022 SUMMIT, an annual convening of business, civic, and community leaders, which brought more than 200 attendees to the Hyatt Regency Chicago on June 16.

Chicago Urban League President and CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson issued the call during the breakfast event, which highlighted the fact that the net worth of the median Black household in the United States is one-tenth that of the median white household. “Everyone wants to talk about the symptoms – violence, health inequities, income inequities. No one really ever drills down and discusses the underlying issues that give rise to everything that we see,” Freeman-Wilson said, noting that 400 years of slavery and discrimination have left Black Americans in an economic situation that often contributes to social ills. “Everyone thinks that somebody should do something. Well, I would suggest that the somebody is us. So, whether it’s you as an individual or you as someone that has influence over an organization, we’re inviting you to submit an idea.”

The call to action is open to anyone who has an idea. Submitted ideas may involve policy solutions, community actions, or individual contributions. The Chicago Urban League will compile all of the ideas and share them with its corporate partners and elected officials. To submit an idea, visit by Thursday, June 30, 2022.

This year’s SUMMIT, themed “Partnering to Close the Racial Wealth Gap,” featured an informative keynote conversation with noted political commentator and professor Melissa Harris-Perry. SUMMIT 2022 was also a commemoration of Juneteenth, which was observed on Monday, June 20 after becoming a federal holiday last year.

Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, Host of NPR’s “The Takeaway,” and author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. For SUMMIT, she sat down for an engaging fireside chat with Melody Spann-Cooper, Chairman and CEO of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, explored the connection between the racial wealth gap and ongoing economic inequity and how it is linked to the delay in Black emancipation. One essential point that Harris-Perry stated in relation to income and the racial wealth gap is, “We cannot individually educate or earn our way out of a wealth gap. It has to be policy.”

The keynote conversation was followed by a panel discussion that included Chicago Community Trust CEO Helene Gayle, Landmark Development President Robert Dunn, and Founder of Bright Star Community Outreach Pastor Chris Harris and moderated by radio personality and host of Chicago Speaks, Darryl Dennard. Along with the panelists, Dennard discussed the vital roles that corporate, community, and government entities can play in closing the racial wealth gap. As Dunn stated, “We know that where investment goes, that is where the opportunity will occur, whether it’s public or private.”

Others who spoke during the breakfast event included Rev. James T. Meeks, senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church, and Rev. Dr. Janette Wilson, Rainbow PUSH senior advisor, who delivered the invocation and closing benediction, respectively. Incoming Chicago Urban League Board Chair and Principal & Director of Life Sciences at Sterling Bay, Dr. Suzet McKinney, welcomed guests along with introducing Freeman-Wilson.

SUMMIT 2022’s top sponsors were CDW/Intel, ITW, and Loop Capital. Media sponsors included iHeart Media Chicago, WVON, and The Chicago Crusader. To view the SUMMIT keynote and panel discussions, visit the League’s Facebook page.

Proceeds from SUMMIT will support the League’s work in helping people find jobs, secure affordable housing, enhance their educational opportunities, and grow their businesses. The Chicago Urban League’s largest fundraising gala, the Golden Fellowship Dinner, will take place on Saturday, November 5.

To learn more about the Golden Fellowship Dinner and other upcoming programs and events from the Chicago Urban League, visit You can also follow the League on Facebook and Twitter.

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