WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Over the past 40 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., extensive advancements have been made in the Black community.
For example, the African-American high school graduation rate has increased by more than 214 percent and the college graduation rate for African-Americans has increased by more than 400 percent, according to the Institute for Policy Studies in a special report released last week.
However, at the rate of the advancements over the past 40 years, in most instances, it would take more than another decade for Blacks to catch up with the current graduation rate of Whites, states the IPS policy briefing.
It further states:
• With the high school graduation rate having increased by 214 percent since 1968, it would take until 2018 to reach equality.
• With the college graduation rate increase of 400 percent since 1968, it would take until 2087 to reach equality.
• Furthermore, it will take more than 537 years to reach income equality with Whites if the income gap continues to close at the same rate it has since 1968.
• If the racial wealth divide continues to close as slowly as it has, since 1983, it will take 634 years for Blacks to reach wealth equality with Whites.
• Today, a third of the Black workforce earns a gross income of less than $385 a week and a gross income of less than $20,000 annually.
These are just some of the economic and educational atrocities pointed out in a report titled, "The Unrealized American Dream", compiled by Dedrick Muhammad, a senior organizer for the IPS's Program on Inequality and the Common Good. Responding to King's question, "Where do we go from here?" the report's introduction asks the question, "Where are We?" It was distributed in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the King assassination, April 4.
The IPS analysis is just one of a string of impacting reports and observations expressed last week. Across the country, marches, rallies, and special church services were held at which orators gave voice to the atrocities that still exist. Also, written documentation of where America stands in relation to African American advancement was distributed broadly with hopes that conscientious hands will advance a speedy and progressive agenda.
A synopsis of policy and action suggestions from the three states, "The Unrealized Dream", "Beyond the Mountaintop" and the "Black Economists Statement" are as follows:
• Ensure a debt-free higher education to first-generation and low-come college students. (IPS)
• Expand homeownership through various first-time homeowner mechanisms, such as soft-second mortgages and subsidized interest rates. (IPS)
• Strengthen federal investment in wealth development for asset-poor Americans. (IPS)
• Create a "green" urban infrastructure and job development fund. (IPS)
• Provide and a universal and more comprehensive health care plan for all Americans. (IPS)
• Generate full employment, even focusing on the 'unemployable'. (Beyond…)
• Fight discrimination by providing opportunities for good jobs. (Beyond…)
• Protect workers' freedom of association and right to join a union. (Beyond…)
• Raise the minimum wage so that it regains its 1968 value and index it so that it rises as prices rise. (Beyond…)
• Insure a fair and progressive tax system, which would include the Earned Income tax Credit. (Economists…)
• Open opportunities for men, women and youth who are traditionally blocked from good jobs. (Economists…)
• Restore and enforce basic labor market standards. (Economists…)
"The 2008 Presidential election is full of talk of 'change'", concludes the IPS report, "The Unrealized American Dream."
It continues, "It is our hope that this report can help catalyze our national will to make real change in the area of racial inequalities – a divide that still tarnishes the land of Dr. King's dream."