National Urban League's State Of Black America Finds Uneven Progress In The Pursuit Of Equality

After 50 Years, Inequities in Employment, Earnings Virtually Unchanged

Apr 10, 2013, 04:15 ET from National Urban League

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --The National Urban League's ( State of Black America report released today concludes that despite social and economic gains, the African-American equality gap with whites has changed little since 1963—the year of the Great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the height of the civil rights movement.

​To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Great March, this year's State of Black America—Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America includes a 50-year retrospective analysis conducted through the lens of The Equality Index®. The report shows that while the African-American condition has improved, including achievements in educational attainment and employment, this progress has occurred largely within the Black community. Double-digit gains in education, employment and wealth contrast sharply with the single-digit gains made in those same areas compared to whites.

The report credits the civil rights measures enacted to open the doors of opportunity for Blacks for the progress made in education and standard of living:


  • The high school completion gap has closed by 57 percentage points.
  • There are more than triple the number of Blacks enrolled in college.
  • For every college graduate in 1963, there are now five.

Standard of Living:

  • The percentage of Blacks living in poverty has declined by 23 points.
  • The percentage of Black children living in poverty has fallen by 22 points.
  • The percentage of Blacks who own their home has increased by 14 points.

These gains stand in stark contrast to the decided lack of progress in closing the equality gap with white Americans:

  • In the past 50 years, the Black-White income gap has only closed by 7 points (now at 60%).
  • The unemployment rate gap has only closed by 6 points (now at 52%).
  • As in 1963, the Black/white unemployment ratio is still about 2-to-1—regardless of education, gender, region of the country, or income level.

"As the budget debate continues in Washington on whether to cut critical program funding, the State of Black America 2013 highlights a harsh reality: budget-cutting fever will cause economic pneumonia," said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. "If we are to move toward lasting economic recovery and full equality and empowerment, we must apply sustainable solutions -- keenly focusing on jobs for all Americans and closing the gaps that result in a 'tale of two Americas.'"

"This year's State of Black America report underscores that employment remains the biggest barrier to equality in our country," said Chanelle P. Hardy, SVP for Policy and Executive Director of the Urban League's Policy Institute. "The National Urban League will continue to push for policies that support job growth now and for the next generation—such as the Urban Jobs Act and the Project Ready STEM Act."

As in past years, The State of Black America—Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America features essays from an esteemed group of leaders from corporate America, not-for-profit organizations, government, academia and media who provide insightful analysis and thoughtful commentary on the theme of this year's publication. Following are perspectives from select essayists:

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) on renewed efforts to roll back voting rights:

Opponents complain of state expense, but what is the price of justice? Their only cost is the paper, postage and manpower required to send copies of legislation to the federal government, hardly a punishment. But without Section 5, victims of voting discrimination, whose rights may already be flagrantly denied, would have to bear the additional cost of an expensive lawsuit to obtain relief, which could take years to resolve. Meanwhile discrimination would run rampant in those jurisdictions.

Cynthia G. Marshall, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, AT&T, on the role of technology in empowering communities:

From my perspective, as a representative of AT&T, Black America's future success will be influenced in large part by our transition to a knowledge-based, technology-driven economy. Broadband and wireless technologies have become vitally important to educating our children, young adults and continuing education students. Without the requisite emphasis on infrastructure development, however, America will lag behind in providing both education and employment opportunities.

Janet Murguia, President and CEO, the National Council of La Raza on the Hispanic–White Equality Index:

With a Hispanic-White Equality Index of 75.4%, Hispanic Americans are experiencing only three-quarters of the full benefits that America has to offer. In the economic and social justice fields Latinos are even farther behind—60.8% in economics and 61.9% in social justice.

Despite the enormous challenges these numbers indicate, the Hispanic-White Index is not all about hardship. It also shows Latinos are taking the opportunities presented to them to build their own American dream. For example, between 2012 and 2013, Hispanic Americans have reduced the gap in the Equality Index by 0.4 percentage points. To achieve that in the middle of a lackluster recovery speaks volumes about the tenacity and enterprise of the Latino community.

Read The State of Black America—Redeem the Dream:
Jobs Rebuild
America online or watch the webcast

About the National Urban League

The National Urban League ( is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its local affiliates through the development of direct service programs; and through the public policy research and advocacy activities of the National Urban League Policy Institute in Washington, DC. Today, there are nearly 100 local Urban League affiliates in 36 states and the District of Columbia, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people nationwide.

Contact: Pamela Rucker Springs (202) 629-5757 |

SOURCE National Urban League