Report Points to Little Gains for Blacks Since March on Washington

Report Points to Little Gains for Blacks Since March on Washington

The Economic Policy Institute says that little has changed in economic and educational conditions for African-Americans in the last 50 years.

Published June 18, 2013

The 50 years since the historic March on Washington have produced little of the gains that its organizers envisioned for African-Americans, with many living in poverty and attending schools that are effectively segregated.

Those were some of the conclusions reached in a report issued Tuesday by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington.

The report, "The Unfinished March: An Overview," looks at many of the goals articulated by several major figures in the historic March on Washington in 1963, comparing those with the conditions affecting African-Americans today.

Among the many conditions cited in the report are the persistently high levels of unemployment in the nation’s Black communities and high levels of African-American children who live in poverty.

“From the 1960s to today, the Black unemployment rate has been about 2 to 2.5 times the white unemployment rate,” the report said. “In 2012, the Black unemployment rate was 14.0 percent, 2.1 times the white unemployment rate (6.6 percent) and higher than the average national unemployment rate of 13.1 percent during the Great Depression, from 1929 to 1939.”

The report stated that African-American students are now as likely to attend schools with other minorities. Black students, the report said, are “still in segregated and unequal schools,” adding that “marchers demanded adequate and integrated education, but that has not been achieved.”

The report stated that “in the late 1960s, 76.6 percent of Black children attended majority Black schools. In 2010, 74.1 percent of Black children attended majority nonwhite schools.” It also explained that the so-called segregated schools of today “do not have the same resources as schools serving white children, violating the core American belief in equality of opportunity.”

In addition, America continues to contain what the report described as “ghettos of poverty.” It quoted Whitney Young, the late executive director of the National Urban League, who called for the nation to provide “decent, wholesome, unrestricted residential areas” for Black citizens.

Instead, the report said, “Today, nearly half of poor Black children live in neighborhoods
with concentrated poverty. However, only a little more than a tenth of poor white children live in similar neighborhoods.”

The Economic Policy Institute was created in 1986 to broaden discussions about economic policy to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers.

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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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