August 29, 2011

African Americans still struggling, data shows

Forty-eight years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, African Americans are still falling behind.

This past weekend many Americans commemorated the anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The 1963 event was best known as the setting where U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech promoting racial harmony at a time when non-white Americans were effectively second-class citizens.

In Washington, a new memorial honouring King’s contributions to the U.S. civil rights movement opened to the public this month.

While many see the election of America’s first black president as the pinnacle achievement of the civil rights movement, critics say the presidency of Barack Obama has so far failed black communities. A chorus of critics has called the Obama administration to task for failing to deliver on a promise of change not just for minority Americans but for all people disaffected by the disproportionate power of the affluent and well-connected.

Princeton University Professor Cornel West study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 36 per cent of black children live in poverty in America. Other non-white groups, such as Latinos, also suffer disproportionately.

Black Americans are also hit harder by unemployment, home foreclosures and other debt defaults, obesity and malnutrition especially among children, and violent crime. Blacks and other minorities are even more likely to be permanently affected by physiological stress caused by achievement gaps.

On today’s episode of The Stream, Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill joins the show via Skype to discuss King’s legacy and the social inequities that exist in the African American community.

These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.