02-19-2017  6:26 am      •     

In light of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday celebration, USA Today recently asked me about the future of the civil rights movement half a century or so after it began. I told the paper the role of the National Urban League and other civil rights groups was evolving to cater to the younger generation, which possesses no memories of a struggle born well before they were.
Today's youth are looking for something different than their parents and grandparents. They are more likely to believe that the key to greater equality is greater access to financial power than political power.
Instead of fighting for basic rights guaranteed to Americans, we are now fighting for our economic future. There is no doubt that Blacks have made great progress in surmounting past challenges and thriving in the 21st century: Our quality of life has improved as has our future.
In 1960, 20.1 percent of Blacks graduated from high school, which was a little less than half the percentage of Whites. Now, 81.1 percent hold high school degrees or higher — compared to 86 percent of Whites.
High school dropout rates have fallen to nearly one half of what they were in 1975 – 27.3 percent to 15.1 percent in 2004, narrowing the gap with Whites of 13.4 percentage points to three. Since 1970, life expectancy has risen 11.4 years, while that of Whites has increased seven years.
In "The State of Blacks America 2006," the National Urban League found the overall status of Blacks to be at 73 percent of Whites. In terms of health, education and social justice, Blacks were from 74 to 78 percent of Whites and even surpassed Whites in civic engagement. However, economically, they lagged substantially behind at just 56 percent.
Despite educational improvements, the gap in salaries has actually widened since 1960 when the median income of Blacks households was roughly $14,000 less than Whites in 2004 dollars. Now, that difference has expanded to $21,372 despite a near doubling of household income.
There was a time when African Americans were denied the right to own property. In 2004, home ownership among Blacks hit an all-time high of nearly 50 percent. We must also be able to maintain and secure that ownership for generations to come. And it is not enough for our children to just graduate high school. To obtain the jobs of the future, they will need to go to college at the very least to acquire the skills of the future and gain the financial freedom we desire for them.
Dr. King realized that to keep the movement alive he needed to begin to expand its scope to issues standing in the way of greater equality such as poverty and the Vietnam War, causing consternation within the Johnson administration.
After all, it wasn't just about guaranteeing basic inalienable rights, the inner-city ghettos in northern cities emerged out of poor economic conditions — not necessarily out of political circumstance. The riots of the late 1960s occurred in areas where residents had the right to vote for years and where the first Blacks after Reconstruction won election.
We must concede that the challenges now faced by the Black community are somewhat different from the 1960s. Our youth have our legacy in their hands. We can either engage them and emerge stronger or ignore them and relinquish our power.
Marc H. Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all