Economic Inequality

A three-part series at the 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book

Books & Literature

Economic inequality is on the rise in the United States, with income disparities growing year by year. U.S. income inequality, by one measure, is the highest it’s been since 1928. Wealth inequality, measuring assets, is even greater. Economic inequality affects the individual and society in a variety of ways, including health, education, economic stability, growth, civic engagement, and crime, among others.

“Inequality is not just about the top marginal tax rate but also about our children’s access to food and the right to justice for all.” —Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz

Virginia is no different. Regional initiatives like the Orange Dot Project in Charlottesville have demonstrated that even families with income levels above the poverty line can’t necessarily pay their bills regularly.

A three-part series of programs in the upcoming 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book seeks to examine the root causes of our nation’s growing economic inequality, while also exploring strategies to address this issue locally and nationally. In partnership with Clergy and Laity United for Justice and Peace (CLUJP), this Festival series includes a panel discussion, headliner program, and community conversation.

On Friday, March 24 at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, the series kicks off with Economic Inequality: Who Benefits? What’s at Stake?, featuring authors Daniel Hatcher (The Poverty Industry), Thomas Shapiro (Toxic Inequality), and Jennifer Silva (Coming Up Short). Moderated by former CNN anchor Frank Sesno, this program will share research and stories related to specific consequences of historically high economic inequality in 21st century America. This program is FREE and open to the public.

“Stiglitz realizes that deepening inequality in our country is not an unlucky act of nature, but a consequence of the policies we have chosen.”—Robert Solow, winner of the Nobel Prize

The series headliner will take place later that same day at the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center. During An Evening with Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (The Great Divide) will address why inequality has increased in the Western world and what we can do about it, in conversation with Frank Sesno. A former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and chair of the U.S. President’s Council of Economic Advisors, Stiglitz also founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue and is professor at Columbia University and chief economist of the Roosevelt Institute. Tickets to this program are $5 and are available at or at the door on the night of the program.

The final component of the three-part series will be a monthly community conversation convened by CLUJP beginning in April 2017. These conversations will provide leadership, coordination, and communication on strategies to promote local action on the issue of economic inequality. As the specific conversation details are confirmed, they will be posted to

For more details about this series or to purchase tickets in advance, please visit

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