New York Times Bestselling Author Heather McGhee to speak in Lexington on April 28

April 5, 2022

McGhee will discuss how racial equity benefits everyone during keynote address and moderated conversation with Renee Shaw

Blue Grass Community Foundation, Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative, University of Kentucky’s Office for Institutional Diversity, and our community partners present An Evening with Heather McGhee at the University of Kentucky Gatton Student Center Grand Ballroom on Thursday, April 28.

In her New York Times bestselling book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” McGhee argues that racism has costs for everyone, not just for people of color. One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers, McGhee offers a powerful exploration of inequality in the United States. McGhee finds examples from across the country of how racism hurts us all and explains the benefits we gain when people come together across race to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own.

Heather McGhee will explore these themes, and more, in a keynote address, followed by a conversation with Renee Shaw, KET’s director of public affairs. Her keynote will be proceeded by a short program and exciting announcements of how we will put these ideas into action to advance racial equity across the community.

“Bringing Heather McGhee to Lexington is part of the Community Foundation’s ongoing commitment to creating more vibrant, healthy and equitable communities where everyone can thrive,” said Lisa Adkins, president/CEO of Blue Grass Community Foundation. “The 28th will be a dynamic opportunity where we can come together to learn, but we are equally excited about the initiatives and opportunities that will follow the event.”

Everyone in the community is invited to join the One Book, One Lexington Community Reads initiative by reading “The Sum of Us,” joining in the conversation and registering for a free ticket to An Evening with Heather McGhee on April 28.

To further the regional conversation about the costs of racism, 1,400 copies of “The Sum of Us” have been made available to our community. The Lexington Public Library has 250 print and digital copies available at Lexington Public Library branches, online at or through the Libby app. Blue Grass Community Foundation has distributed hundreds of copies, and a limited number are still available – email to request a copy. And the University of Kentucky Provost Unit has made 600 e-books available for download for UK employees, here.  

An Evening with Heather McGhee and the One Book, One Lexington Community Reads “The Sum of Us” are part of a series of events that will be announced over the course of the year designed to engage the entire community, deepen knowledge and prompt action on issues of racial equity and anti-Black racism.

“Heather McGhee is genius for using a meta-analysis approach of the zero-sum philosophy to expose how racism effects all of us and is pervasive in every system,” said Tiffany Brown, chief equity officer of the LFUCG Commission for Racial Justice & Equality. “Her approach to this book is not only inspiring but positive and provokes action by all. The purpose of the Racial Justice and Equality Commission is to listen, discuss and create empowering solutions that dismantle systemic racism in Lexington. For that reason, the Commission for Racial Justice & Equality wanted to join this initiative as a community partner to help peel back the layers of racial inequities that will take all of us to implement sustainable change.” 

These efforts are guided by a collaboration that includes Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative, University of Kentucky Office for Institutional Diversity, CivicLex, Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass, Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington Public Library, Lexington Racial Justice & Equality Commission, RADIOLEX, WUKY and Blue Grass Community Foundation, with generous funding support from Walton Family Foundation.

The Community Foundation is coordinating the collaborative as part of its mission to create more generous, vibrant and equitable communities across the Bluegrass.

About the Event: An Evening with Heather McGhee

The Sum of Us: An Evening with Heather McGhee, in conversation with Renee Shaw.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

University of Kentucky Gatton Student Center Grand Ballroom

  • Doors open at 6pm
  • Program begins at 6:30pm
  • Heather McGhee’s keynote begins at 7pm
  • Moderated conversation with Renee Shaw begins at 7:45pm

This event is free and open to all, but registration is required. Secure a ticket at

About the Author: Heather McGhee

Heather McGhee is an expert in economic and social policy. The former president of the inequality-focused think tank Demos, McGhee has drafted legislation, testified before Congress and contributed regularly to news shows including NBC’s Meet the Press. McGhee holds a BA in American studies from Yale University and a JD from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. Read Heather McGhee’s full bio.