NYT bestselling author to speak at Otterbein


WESTERVILLE — Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, leaving many advocates to carry on his work for racial equality today. On the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, Otterbein University is bringing New York Times bestselling author and renowned social justice policy expert Heather McGhee to Westerville to discuss how racism in American politics and policymaking is hurting the economy.

McGhee will give a free public lecture for Otterbein’s Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in Church of the Messiah, 51 N. State St., Westerville. Get more information and register at otterbein.edu/pack.

Her book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and is a Washington Post and TIME Magazine Must-Read Book of 2021.

McGhee’s specialty is the American economy — and why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?

McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Mississippi to California to Maine, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm — the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country — from parks and pools to functioning schools — have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world’s advanced economies, has thwarted universal health care.

But in unlikely places of worship and work, McGhee finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own.

To learn more about McGhee’s advocacy and policy work, visit www.heathermcghee.com.

The Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecture and Scholar-in-Residence program has been bringing high-profile scholars and speakers to Otterbein’s campus to discuss contemporary issues and topics for more than two decades. The series was established in 2002 through a generous gift from alumnus Vernon L. Pack, a 1950 graduate of the university.

Submitted by Otterbein University.

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