National Urban League launched the 2016 State of Black America – Locked Out: Education, Jobs and Justice report during a live web broadcast at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., May 17. Celebrating the 40-year history of the report from former Executive Director Vernon Jordan, who issued the first report in 1976, key issues in this year’s report include job creation, living wages, voting rights, criminal justice reform, and education.
Hosted by the National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, the report noted equality gaps between our nation’s richest and poorest citizens and offered thought-provoking solutions in the form of essays from leading voices in the academic, corporate, political, and entertainment arenas.
The report has “always been an important publication, but this year it provides an opportunity to tell the story of what has been accomplished and to determine what must be done,” said Newseum President and CEO, Jeffery Herbst. “We look forward to using our commitment and ability to explain our foundational freedoms to be part of the struggle of inclusivity and equality in the United States.”
Concern was raised over apparent setbacks in social and educational gains since the initial 1976 report. For instance, in 1976, schools had been legally desegregated for 22 years, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was 12 years old, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had been in place 11 years, and the economy was one year into economic recovery from the recession that lasted from November 1973 to March 1975. Still, Blacks were nearly twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed; the median Black household had only 59 cents for every dollar of income, and Blacks were three times more likely to live in poverty than Whites.
“If there is one constant in the State of Black America Report it is the importance of spreading opportunities and empowerment. We see the promise of technology to help address many of the disparities detailed in this year’s state of Black America report,” said James Cicconi, AT&T executive vice president of External and Legislative Affairs, who partnered with the NUL to conduct the research. “It will take more than tech to address these issues. We must all lead by example in supporting social justice. In our view social justice is far too important to be a matter for individuals; it must also be an endeavor for corporations.”
NUL President Marc Morial said that statistically the gains made in the 1960s had been decimated, and that all gears had been thrown into reverse, effectively moving Black America backwards, but that his organization was poised to offer remedies. “The Urban League is not a think tank, the Urban League is not a talk tank, the Urban League is a ‘do tank,’ and what we need to do is save our cities big and small, north to south, east to west from coast to coast,” Morial said. “We must save our cities. We must develop our economic infrastructure and move people out of poverty – from welfare rolls to payrolls.”