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Michael Wenger
Michael R. Wenger, of Mitchellville, Maryland, is a Senior Fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the nation's pre-eminent research and public policy analysis institution focusing on issues of race. He also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology, specializing in race relations, at The George Washington University and the author of My Black Family, My White Privilege: A White Man's Journey Through the Nation's Racial Minefield, which is a personal memoir.

Mr. Wenger came to the Joint Center in October, 1998, after serving as Deputy Director for Outreach and Program Development for President Clinton's Initiative on Race. At the Joint Center he was the founder and Director of NABRE (Network of Alliances Bridging Race and Ethnicity), an initiative of the Joint Center. NABRE linked approximately 200 race relations/racial justice organizations across the country for the purpose of facilitating communication and interaction, both electronic and face to face, among leaders of community-based racial reconciliation projects. The network's mission is to cultivate and nurture local leaders as they build and sustain alliances that break down and transcend barriers of race and ethnicity in all sectors of civil society and in communities across the country. Mr. Wenger also has served as the Joint Center's Acting Vice President for Communications and Acting Vice President for Governance and Economic Analysis.

Mr. Wenger served for more than 16 years as the States Washington Representative for the Appalachian Regional Commission, a Congressionally-funded agency charged with promoting economic development in the 13-state Appalachian region of the United States. In this capacity he represented the Governors of the 13 Appalachian states on policy and legislative matters relating to their membership on the Commission.

Before coming to Washington, D.C., Mr. Wenger held several policy-making positions, including Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Welfare and Commissioner of the Department of Employment Security, in the administration of West Virginia Governor John D. Rockefeller IV. He began his career as a journalist and public school teacher in New York City and then held leadership positions in the West Virginia anti-poverty program and with the City of Charleston, WV. He is the co-author of Window Pane Stories: Vignettes to Help You Look At and Beyond Your Experiences, a frequent speaker on race relations, and the author of numerous articles on race relations and on rural economic development.

Mr. Wenger was born in New York City and educated at Queens College of the City University of New York, where he was a leader in the civil rights struggles of the early 1960s. He is married and has three grown children, four grandchildren, and a great grandchild.

Entries by Michael Wenger

Pete Seeger: His Public Face Was His Private Face

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 9:57 PM

I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s listening to The Weavers. At one time I believe I had all of their albums. How well I remember their rousing versions of songs like "Good Night Irene," "Tzena Tzena," and "This Land Is Your Land," among many others. Foremost among the...

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The Significance of the March on Washington

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 8:50 AM

I am blessed to have been among thousands of white college students who participated in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Watching and reading with a sense of nostalgia the media coverage commemorating the 50th anniversary of the march has reminded me of my strong belief that...

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Reclaiming the Narrative About Race

(11) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 3:30 PM

In his powerful and deeply personal reaction to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, President Obama sought to reclaim the narrative about race. Yet, less than two weeks after his remarks, issues of racial injustice seem once again to be fading in the rear view mirror. If the...

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The People Who Need This Deal

(31) Comments | Posted December 8, 2010 | 12:23 PM

The current outrage among progressives about the tax deal negotiated by President Obama and Republicans reminds me of a philosophical debate we used to have when I was an anti-poverty community organizer in the late 1960s in southern West Virginia. Most organizers were idealistic middle-class college students or recent college...

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Can African American Voters Save Us From Ourselves?

(110) Comments | Posted October 19, 2010 | 11:27 PM

If the pollsters are correct, on November 2 we are likely to elect people to both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives who want to privatize Social Security, end unemployment compensation, repeal civil rights legislation and health care reform, ignore climate change, allow big corporations to secretly...

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The Sherrod Case: Now What?

(4) Comments | Posted July 23, 2010 | 11:51 AM

I can't recall the specific incident, but several years ago Julian Bond, civil rights icon and then Chairman of the Board of the NAACP, called the Republican Party "shameless" and the Democratic Party "spineless" when it comes to the issue of race. The Shirley Sherrod incident--the editing of the...

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(1) Comments | Posted April 14, 2010 | 1:58 PM

By Michael R. Wenger

Both Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour are well-educated, politically astute, and reasonably bright public officials. But their recent comments about the significance, or lack thereof, of slavery bespeak a level of ignorance or deceitfulness that...

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Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About November

(20) Comments | Posted March 22, 2010 | 9:29 PM

The conventional wisdom is that the year-long debate on health care reform will severely hurt the Democrats in the November mid-term elections. Most people concede that passage of the legislation on Sunday night may help a bit, but they still believe that the Democrats will lose a significant number...

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It's Time for Presidential Leadership

(6) Comments | Posted January 25, 2010 | 8:52 AM

The people of Massachusetts spoke last week, but decoding what they said depends on where you stand. Some are reading the message as opposition to health care reform, and indeed, a significant percentage of the voters said their vote was intended to stop the current health care reform legislation. But...

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