Young, African-American men are disproportionately more likely to be incarcerated. Their unemployment rate for June was 13 percent. A study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education found that just 52 percent graduated from high school in 2009-10.
Black lawmakers on Capitol Hill in March established the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys to raise awareness about issues like these that disproportionately affect this demographic. On July 24, the group will hold its first hearing, titled "The Status of Black Males: Ensuring Our Boys Mature Into Strong Men."
The timing of the hearing, a little more than a week after the George Zimmerman verdict, is coincidental, said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a co-chair of the caucus, but the inaugural effort to get the nation to address the challenges facing African-American males is "right on time."
Pointing to barriers to success, such as the likelihood of being racially profiled, having little or no access to quality health care or to have suffered from gun violence, Rep. Danny Davis called for the end of these and other disparities.
"We know that our nation cannot be true to its values, indeed cannot sustain itself, divided by such persistent inequalities," said the Illinois congressman and caucus co-chair. "This hearing is a key step [to focus] the attention and creativity of our nation [on] addressing the profound causes and consequences of this great divide.
Wednesday's panelists will include former congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume; Georgetown professor and social policy commentator Michael Eric Dyson; and David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
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(Photo: Micah Walter/Getty Images)