What is

A Virtual Economic Summit on Racial Equity

Each year, The Greenlining Insitute’s Economic Summit brings together thought leaders at the forefront of the fight for justice and equity. Our 27th annual Economic Summit, We the Future, moved completely online May 21, becoming our first-ever virtual Summit on race equity. While we missed meeting everyone in person, online attendance set a record of more than 1,600 participants from all over the U.S. for an exhilarating, energizing day of ideas and inspiration, punctuated by lively musical breaks provided by DJ Ome. 

Greenlining's President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann this year's Economic Summit by thanking the millions of essential workers who stock grocery shelves, care for the elderly, and so much more. As inspiration for the day, she pointed to the sacrifices made by Greenlining’s founders and the words of beloved activist Grace Lee Boggs, who called on us all “to embrace the power within each of us to create the world anew.”

We The Future 2020 Highlights

Meet Our Speakers

We were privileged this year to welcome a range of exciting speakers, including john a. powell, director of the Othering and Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, Black Futures Lab Principal Alicia Garza, AAPI Civic Engagement Fund Director EunSook Lee, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, Obama Foundation Chief Engagement Officer Michael Strautmanis, University of Southern California Professor Manual Pastor, and critically acclaimed author Ibram X. Kendi, director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, among many others.

Ibram X Kendi Square

lbram X. Kendi
American University

Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza
Activist & Founder, Black Futures Lab


Lateefah Simon
President, Akonadi Foundation

Jacqueline Garcel is CEO of the Latino Community Foundation

Jacqueline Martinez Garcel
CEO, Latino Community Foundation


Manuel Pastor
Professor, USC

Summit Speaker 1_1

Anne Price
President, Insight Center


Michael Strautmanis
Chief Engagement Officer
The Obama Foundation


Chesa Boudin
District Attorney, City & County of
San Francisco


john a. powell
Director, Center for Othering
and Belonging


Darryl Molina Sarmiento
Executive Director, Communities for a Better Environment

Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland)
California State Assembly

Eileen Fitzgerald Wells Fargo Summit 2020

Eileen Fitzgerald
Head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy
Wells Fargo

We The Future 2020 Video Highlights

Our four main stage sessions included lively and energizing discussions that connected the immediate crisis posed by COVID-19 to the U.S.’s longstanding pandemic of inequality and strategies for building a fairer, more equitable society.  To view the complete set of video recordings, please visit our blog.

Fireside Chat with Ibram X. Kendi & Anne Price

 In conversation with Anne Price, the renowned author and thinker dug deep into the concept of antiracism, saying, "We cannot reconcile if we do not confess. The heart of antiracism is confession." He had strong words for the overwhelmingly white movement to “reopen” the economy: “They’re essentially saying they want the freedom to infect … This sounds a lot like the slaveholders, where they had the freedom to enslave, the freedom to rape, the freedom to kill.” Kendi argued for a rethinking of how we define racism: “What if America eliminated the term ‘race-neutral policy’ and defined any policy that led to racial inequity as racist?” 

Fireside Chat with Lateefah Simon & john a. powell

In conversation with Lateefah Simon, Prof. powell put current struggles in perspective, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic’s different impacts on different groups have long roots in an unequal society -- one that, for example, left farm workers and domestic workers out of Social Security during the New Deal. Those impacts still play out today, he explained, reminding viewers, that while we are all being told to wash our hands frequently, “35 percent of people in the Navajo Nation don’t have running water.” Prof. powell urged all to practice “physical distancing and social solidarity,” and to remember that "justice is the public face of love." 

Opening Plenary

Movement Building and Solidarity in a Time of Crisis

This panel moderated by Alicia Garza brought together real-world change-makers: Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation; EunSook Lee, Director of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund; Chesa Boudin, District Attorney of San Francisco; and Michael Strautmanis, the Obama Foundation’s Chief Engagement Officer, to share ideas and strategies for the struggles ahead. They got down to nuts and bolts, from Chesa Boudin walking us through the process of reducing mass incarceration to EunSook Lee admonishing larger organizations to invest in local community activists, noting, “When you talk about how to create solidarity, I think groups on the ground know best.” To view the full recording, please visit our blog.

Closing Plenary

Reimagining the Future with Racial Equity

This session connected the dots between COVID-19, the climate crisis, and the need to reimagine our political and economic systems to create a stronger, more resilient planet and people. Moderator Alvaro Sanchez, Greenlining’s Environmental Equity director, noted how the pandemic is highlighting all of the U.S.’s inequities, adding pointedly, “Our economy runs on an engine of white supremacy.” Panelists Rhianna Gunn Wright of the Roosevelt Institute, USC Prof. Manuel Pastor and Solana Rice of Liberation in a Generation had provocative thoughts as well, with Pastor commenting, “We’ve been trying to show mother earth who’s boss – and it’s not us… I think this a moment of tremendous pain and grief and loss, and also a moment of tremendous objectivity.”