Occupy Wall Street, 10 years later
Sep 14, 2021
Episode 517

Occupy Wall Street, 10 years later

And how it changed the way we talk about inequality.

Ten years ago this week, a group of activists pitched tents in New York’s Zuccotti Park. They said they were protesting against economic inequality and the gap between the people who hold the top 1% of wealth in this country and the rest of us. 

Soon, people in cities all over the globe launched their own Occupy Wall Street protests, and while police broke up the original protest in New York two months later, Occupy Wall Street went a lot longer and a lot further than many expected.

“There were experts, people in the social sciences who had been studying inequality, and were very well aware of its explosive growth in the period since the 1970s. But it wasn’t really on the radar of the general population until Occupy. I think that was one of the major impacts,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center, who has studied the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

Milkman said while Occupy Wall Street may not have done much to close the growing income inequality gap in this country, it made the issue part of the national political conversation. She also draws lines between Occupy, the Fight for $15, the rise of Bernie Sanders and other social movements that followed, including Black Lives Matter.

On today’s show, we’ll talk with Milkman about the legacy of Occupy Wall Street.

In the news fix, we’ll talk about Facebook and a new project from The Wall Street Journal that reveals troubling information about what’s happening inside company. Plus, we’ll hear from one of our favorite listeners and one of the best low-key answers to the Make Me Smart question we’ve received in a while.

Read the transcript here.

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The team

Marissa Cabrera Senior Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer