American Dream Reconsidered Conference, Sept. 14–17, 2020

On September 14–17, the virtual American Dream Reconsidered Conference will convene civic leaders to discuss social movements and the modern American dream. The annual conference, presented by Roosevelt University and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, is free to the public.

In honor of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, the weeklong event will explore the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt. Panelists will discuss activism and progressive leadership in the leadup to the 2020 election.

On Thursday, September 17, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot will discuss governing during a period of interlocking crises: COVID-19, economic inequality and racial injustice. Ann Claire Williams, retired Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge, will moderate the conversation on responsive, accountable leadership in an age of inequality.

Conference highlights include:

  • Monday, Sept. 14 – 21st Century New Deal Political Leadership with Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, Miss.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 15 – Champions for Democracy: Black Women and the Right to Vote with authors Martha Jones and Lisa Materson
  • Wednesday, Sept. 16 ­– The Struggle Continues: The Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights with leaders of the Brave Space Alliance, Center on Halsted and Lambda Legal
  • Thursday, Sept. 17 ­– Speaking Truth to Power: Roosevelt Students Fight for Racial Justice, moderated by alum and political commentator Ameshia Cross

Roosevelt University president Ali Malekzadeh founded the conference in 2016.

“The American dream transcends economic opportunity and individual success,” said Malekzadeh. “This election year, our panelists will ask: How can we strengthen our democracy? What are our responsibilities to each other as Americans?”

Conference co-chairs and Roosevelt professors Margaret Rung and Andrew Trees will serve as guest hosts of the University podcast, And Justice for All. With special guests like civil rights leader Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, episodes will explore what the American dream means across communities.

The conference will also mark the 75th anniversary of the University. In 1945, Roosevelt’s founding faculty and staff walked out of the YMCA College to protest racial and religious discrimination.

To learn more and register, visit

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About Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University, a private institution founded in 1945 on the principles of inclusion and social justice, has more than 4,800 students and campuses in the Chicago Loop, Schaumburg, Peoria and Lake County. Roosevelt offers 75 undergraduate, 15 graduate and doctoral programs across five colleges and online, including arts and sciences, business, performing arts, education, culinary, health sciences and pharmacy. 

The integration of Robert Morris University Illinois into Roosevelt was approved in March 2020. The new Roosevelt will be nationally recognized as a catalyst for students from all walks of life to receive transformational learning experiences. Students who attend the expanded University will become socially conscious citizens who thrive in a diverse and changing world. Together, both universities will build on their historic missions that honor diversity, inclusion and access to education. Roosevelt seeks and serves a diverse student body because it values differences in experiences and perspectives, and uses those differences to promote mutual understanding, inclusion and action toward social justice. 

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