May 1, 2015 William Julius Wilson to Discuss Race and Economic Class, May 21

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 703-1639
Public Contact: Jason Steinhauer (202) 707-0213
Contact: William Julius Wilson to Discuss Race and Economic Class, May 21

William Julius Wilson, a distinguished sociologist and the current Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance at the Library of Congress, will present a lecture on the effects of race and class in determining the future life outcomes of men and women in America.

Wilson will speak at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 21 in Room 119 on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

The lecture will mark the conclusion to Wilson’s four-month residency at The John W. Kluge Center. During his residency, Wilson reexamined arguments laid forth in his 1978 book “The Declining Significance of Race,” in which he argued economic class has gradually become more important than race in determining the future life outcomes of African Americans. In his lecture, Wilson will reflect on the themes articulated in this work and their application to more recent developments in American race and ethnic relations involving not only African Americans but also other groups, including whites and Latinos. He will also advance some thoughts on the future of race relations in the U.S.

Wilson is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. He is one of 24 University Professors, the highest professional distinction for a Harvard faculty member. Regarded as a top thinker on issues of urban poverty, race and class relations, Wilson wrote the 1987 book, “The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, The Underclass and Public Policy,” which is a staple in many college courses. Former President Bill Clinton praised the book as a “stunning volume” on how “the inner cities of our country have crumbled as work has disappeared.”

Wilson also is the author of “More than Just Race” (2009), “The Bridge over the Racial Divide” (1999) and “When Work Disappears” (1996). He was a MacArthur Fellow from 1987 to 1992. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1998 and was selected by Time magazine in June 1996 as one of America’s 25 Most Influential People. He serves on the Kluge Center’s Scholars Council.

The Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance, appointed by the Librarian of Congress, is a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Library. Using research facilities and services at the Library of Congress, the scholar conducts research that focuses on the development of government in the United States, and on domestic matters of and among the three different branches of government.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 15-074
ISSN 0731-3527