Capitol Report – The Dream: 50 years hence
By State Representative, Leon D. Young
The 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic March on Washington was commemorated in cities around the country last Saturday. Tens of thousands of people rallied in the Nation’s Capital, once again, to remember and celebrate Dr. King’s now famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
In many respects, much has changed since Dr. King addressed the nation on that hot, sunny day in August (1963).
If Dr. King were alive today, it would be most interesting to hear his thoughts and gather his opinions concerning the current state of race relations in this nation.
Many would have us believe that we now live in a colorblind society; moreover that we have made tremendous strides regarding the thorny issue of race. These individuals are quick to cite as proof the fact that several African-Americans now occupy prominent public positions – most notably, President Barack Obama.
But, reality and empirical evidence paint a far different picture. Here are some startling statistics to consider:
• From 2007 to 2010, according to the Urban Institute, Black family wealth fell by 31 percent compared with an 11% decline for Whites.
• The national Black unemployment rate is 13.7 percent more than twice the 6.6 percent rate for whites.
• Blacks make up 13 percent of the nation’s population, but more than half of America’s homicide victims and culprits were Black in 2011.
• Of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in this country, 1 million are Black. And, according to Paul Butler, a Georgetown law professor, African-American men are the most incarcerated group in the history of the world.
• The median household income for a Black family is $33,000, as to compare to $55,000 for a white family.
• 11 states deny the right to vote to more than 10 percent of their Black populations because of felony convictions.
Since the outset of racial profiling (Trayvon Martin), voter suppression, ALEC and “stand your ground” laws, Black Americans now find themselves in a precarious position. Furthermore, there is something heinously wrong with a society in which Black parents feel compelled to deliver “The Talk” to their unsuspecting sons, in an effort to protect them from overzealous law enforcement or vigilante citizens that are now emboldened by carrying a gun.
Dr. Kings’ March on Washington in 1963 was intended to promote the issues of racial equality and economic opportunity for minorities and others.
However, at the end of the day, we do not live in a postracial society, irrespective of having a Black president in the White House. And, most unfortunately, Black boys are still being judged by the color of their skin.