It’s been more that fifty years since the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a watershed moment, in the eyes of some. However nice the show was black people never got that bad check the Dr. King talked about, in the same way, the slaves never got the forty acres nor the mule. Today, black people are poorer and in a worse position now, than in 1963 and near the same position as they were 1863 – really. The sad thing is most continue to believe and wait for the premise of the American dream.
However, we must be mindful that it was not a welcomed event as most of white America and the Kennedy Administration were very much against the March on Washington for equality. In fact, a survey at the time records that most of white America stated “the Negro is happy,” therefore, the request for equality is coming from a few outside agitators. In spite of a quarter of a million people who walked, rode buses and trains to make the statement that they were just plain wrong.
I’m not saying that there has not been significant and important progress in the last 50 years. Surely for some, but if Dr. King were to have an opinion – I am sure he would be very displeased. I don’t profess to be as honorable or noteworthy as some of our so-called leaders, but the disparity between Black Americans and White Americans when it comes to jobs, income, healthcare, and wealth remain vast and much too large. When you look at the urban communities – the plight of Black America is worse than ever in most categories.
Some time ago several organizations gathered and released what they called the annual “State of Black America” report, which highlighted the economic forecast for African Americans in this country. Although the report is presented annually, this year, the Urban League commissioned a half-century study, which in my view was deplorable given the results.
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair reported, “the unemployment rate is double for blacks than for whites; we’ve lost more homes to foreclosure than whites, and we’ve lost more wealth than whites”. Yet, they say the percentage of blacks living in poverty has declined 23 points, and the percentage of black children living in poverty is down by 22 points since 1963.”
A point to note, the march was before the signing of any of the landmark civil rights legislation, which adds little credibility to that statement. It is also noteworthy to remember that at that time, in 1963, Jim Crow was the law of the land and its restrictions did not allow “Coloreds,” as they called them, to use the same bathrooms or eat at lunch counters. So, if you consider this environment the fact is there are minimal gains that have been made regarding great progress.
The report credits the civil rights measures that were enacted to open the doors of opportunity for blacks in education and standards of living. Rep. Chaka Fattah said, “It is without contradiction that African Americans have made extraordinary progress in the report… But, compared to the majority, we still have some room to grow”. I wonder if his constituents would agree in Philadelphia. Moreover, any of the basic civil rights for people of color only took about three hundred years to achieve.
The Urban League leader then said, as the budget debate continues in Washington on whether to cut critical program funding, the “State of Black America…” highlights a harsh reality. “Budget-cutting fever will cause economic pneumonia. If we are to move toward lasting economic recovery, full equality, and empowerment, we must apply sustainable solutions keenly focusing on jobs for all Americans and closing the gaps that result in a tale of two Americas”.
I will tell you that I have lived long enough to have witnessed and know that people will say anything, regardless of complication, on any subject. Many will say, “There is no race problem because there’s a black president. Or they will point to a few, out of 42 million, successful African Americans as progress. But the reality is most Blacks in America see the remnants of the Dr. King’s Dream more as a “Nightmare”. I have to say from my vantage point the forecast looks GRIM! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…