How Far Have We Come?

Well, I’m finally taking the plunge into the blogosphere! I’m so excited about this technology. I’ve got lots of ideas for posts and I look forward to hearing your opinions. Please join me to explore civil rights issues, examine historical tidbits, and sit beside me as my first book hits the shelves. Here is my first post:

I’m always wondering how far we’ve come as a country in addressing racial inequality since the civil rights movement. In my book, twelve-year-old Addie Ann Pickett attends a civil rights meeting at her church. The speaker, Tyrone Tubbs, is trying to motivate the black folk in the church to participate in the movement. To this end, he reads out a part of the speech that President Kennedy gave on national television on June 11, 1963, the night Medgar Evers was shot.

In this famous civil rights speech , President Kennedy said:

The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day, one-third as much chance of completing college, one-third as much chance of becoming a professional man, twice as much chance of becoming unemployed, about one-seventh as much chance of earning ten thousand dollars a year, a life expectancy which is seven years shorter, and the prospects of earning only half as much.

That said, I was most interested to open the Economist magazine this week, 45 years after that speech, and get the update. An article titled , “Nearer to Overcoming” begins:

Barack Obama’s success shows that the ceiling has risen for many African-Americans. But many are still too close to the floor.

The article points out the good news: Back then, blacks in the South couldn’t vote. Today they can run for president. Back then Southern blacks couldn’t attend the same schools as white children. Today black and white students sit side by side. Then it lists the dim statistics:

Blacks’ median household income is still only 63% of whites’. Academically, black children at 17 perform no better than a white 13-year-old. Blacks die, on average, five years earlier than whites. And though the black middle class has grown immensely, many blacks are still stuck in crime-scorched, nearly jobless ghettos.

So what do you think? How far has this nation come? What can we be proud of? And how can we chart a path for progress in the future?

Posted in Uncategorized on 05/15/2008 12:34 am

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