UNITED STATES NEWS

Black Americans’ significant economic and civil rights progress threatened, report says

Mar 1, 2024, 8:51 AM

FILE - National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial speaks at the National Urban League Annu...

FILE - National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial speaks at the National Urban League Annual Conference, July 22, 2022, in Washington. Black Americans have endured considerable injustices and barriers to prosperity and equality throughout U.S. history. But their social, economic and political advances in the past 60 years have been unsatisfactory. That's according to a new annual study on racial progress, called the “State of Black America." (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Americans have endured considerable injustices and barriers to prosperity and equality throughout U.S. history. But their social, economic and political advances in the 60 years since the enactment of major civil rights legislation have been unsatisfactory, according to a new annual study on racial progress.

The “ State of Black America ” report by the National Urban League, which has compiled research and analysis on the status of Black Americans in the U.S. for decades, cites legal challenges to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and backlash to efforts meant to advance racial progress such as affirmative action and diversity, equity and inclusion policies for decelerating progress.

“Doors have been opened in higher education, government and the private sector in that sixty year period. That’s important. Every measure shows progress,” National Urban League President Marc Morial said, in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the report’s release Friday.

“But I would have thought we would have been much further along than we are in 2024 with respect to achieving a sense of parity in America,” Morial said.

Despite significant economic advancement over several decades, the report also highlights numerous barriers to economic advancement. The result, the report’s authors write, is persistent economic and political disparities. The racial income gap has been virtually unchanged for more than 20 years, with Black Americans making on average 64% of the income of white people, the report notes.

Similarly, the study highlighted barriers in opportunity. For instance, Black students are still more likely than their white counterparts to have uncertified and inexperienced teachers. At the same time, the number of Black students dropping out of primary education has decreased from 13.1% in 2000 to 3.9% in 2024.

The view of Black civic participation is also mixed. While the percentage of Black Americans registered to vote stood at 69% in 2020 compared to 64% in 2000, the percentage of Black people who voted in 2022 stood at 42.3%, a drop from 54% who cast ballots in 2002.

At the current pace, it would take anywhere from one to three centuries for most Black Americans to achieve parity with their white peers, depending on their region of the country, according to a February study by the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility.

And while major institutions, including top corporations, governments and media have increased the number of Black leaders in their ranks, such efforts are being limited as diversity and inclusion initiatives face court challenges, public backlash from conservative activists and restrictions by some state and local Republican lawmakers.

“Notwithstanding the effort to move forward, there’s always been a movement of resistance to that progress and that resistance has played a role in decelerating the progress that we need to make on the journey to parity. We see it being played out right now, ” Morial said in reference to issues such as political gerrymandering, book-banning in schools and attacks on diversity policies.

Morial pointed to the current U.S. Supreme Court, which he said “has demonstrated a hostility to the tools necessary to correct the long history of racial discrimination.’

The Urban League’s study also evaluates President Joe Biden’s performance in office and finds his administration’s efforts fall short of promises made to Black Americans, even as the president faces significant opposition from Republican lawmakers and some in his own party.

The report, however, broadly approves of Biden’s policy agenda. A record-low Black unemployment rate, as well as efforts to expand health-care access and affordable housing for Black Americans are signs of progress, the authors wrote.

Still, the “political opposition” that blocked the enactment of policies considered top priorities by Black Americans, such as voting rights and policing reform, are major letdowns.

“We are in a world of deep attack by an ideological extreme that wants to erase so much of the civil-rights movement,” said Maya Wiley, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and co-author of the study.

Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Justice Department, said federal watchdogs are ready to ensure the nation’s civil rights laws are being followed.

“We’ve been working across the country to reach underserved communities so that we understand the problems that communities face,” Clarke said in an interview with the AP. “Our country thrives when everyone has a voice in our democracy and we remain vigilant and work to counter voting discrimination and voter suppression wherever it rears its ugly head.”

On the eve of the Bloody Sunday anniversary events commemorating voting rights marches in Selma, Alabama this weekend, Morial called on federal officials to increase their efforts to protect civil rights and to better support sociopolitical advances in the Black community.

“This moment is a reminder about our obligation to confront voter suppression and continuing threats that we see when it comes to access to the ballot box,” he said.

____

Matt Brown is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on social media.

____

The Associated Press receives support from several private foundations to enhance its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. See more about AP’s democracy initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

United States News

Associated Press

Columbia University cites progress with Gaza war protesters following encampment arrests

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said early Wednesday that it was making “important progress” with pro-Palestinian student protesters who set up a tent encampment and that it was extending a deadline to clear out, yet standoffs remained tense on the Ivy League campus in upper Manhattan. Student protesters “have committed to dismantling and removing […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

What to listen for during Supreme Court arguments on Donald Trump and presidential immunity

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court hears arguments Thursday over whether Donald Trump is immune from prosecution in a case charging him with plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. It’s a historic day for the court, with the justices having an opportunity to decide once and for all whether former presidents […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

USPS commits to rerouting Reno-area mail despite bipartisan pushback and mail ballot concerns

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The USPS announced on Tuesday it will follow through with its plan to reroute Reno-area mail processing to Sacramento, a move that drew bipartisan ire from Nevada lawmakers while raising questions about the rate at which mail ballots can be processed in a populous part of a crucial swing state. Postmaster […]

11 hours ago

The American and Ukrainian flags wave in the wind outside of the Capitol on Tuesday, April 23, 2024...

Associated Press

Senate overwhelmingly passes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with big bipartisan vote

The Senate has passed $95 billion in war aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending the legislation to Biden after months of delays.

12 hours ago

The logo for the Tesla Supercharger station is seen in Buford, Ga, April 22, 2021. Faced with falli...

Associated Press

Tesla 1Q profit falls 55%, but stock jumps as company moves to speed production of cheaper vehicles

Tesla’s stock price surged in after-hours trading Tuesday as the company said it would prioritize production of more affordable vehicles.

12 hours ago

Pages from the United Healthcare website are displayed on a computer screen, Feb. 29, 2024, in New ...

Associated Press

UnitedHealth says wide swath of patient files may have been taken in Change cyberattack

The company said after markets closed that it sees no signs that doctor charts or full medical histories were released after the attack.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Black Americans’ significant economic and civil rights progress threatened, report says