A sobering report released last weekend states that the economic disparity between Blacks and Whites has virtually remained the same for the past 50 years. Additionally, 50 years ago Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom” also took place. Next week, President Barack Obama faces a weighty challenge in speaking to the nation and addressing the looming issue of economic inequality on the official anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
A march led by Rev. Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network is set to take place this coming weekend in the Nation’s Capital, but a Washington Post article highlighted troubling facts and figures despite gains made by Blacks in recent times and the historic election of President Obama in 2008.
Using numbers from a recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report, it was revealed that the economic gap between Blacks and Whites hasn’t closed since 1963. During that year, White unemployment sat at 5 percent while 10.9 percent of Blacks were jobless.
Today, the numbers are 6.6 for Whites and 12.6 for Blacks.
Also unveiled was that Black unemployment has been at recession levels over the past five decades as well.
Adding to the impact are other facts, such as Black children being born in to poverty at a far higher rate the White children and that desegregation of schools essentially ended in 1980, not 1954.
Last month, Obama’s “Better Bargain For The Middle Class” campaign was met with the requisite support and criticism. The President took a town hall, plain-speaking approach to his recent talks in working class cities, but he has yet to address the African-American community full on in the campaign.
The Post notes that August 28th — on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial — would be a perfect time for him to do so.
From the Post:
As the President addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28th, current and former advisers say he will want to impress upon listeners how progress toward racial equality will require progress toward economic equality.
‘He wants to create opportunity and to make sure the level playing field is ready for everybody,’ said Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s senior advisers and close friends. “If you look at poverty or unemployment, they disproportionately affect people of color. People who don’t have health insurance are disproportionately of color. There is inevitably an overlap in addressing racial equality at the same time you’re trying to create economic empowerment.
Read the EPI’s full report here.