Urban League urges more opportunity

The problems facing black men make up the nation's biggest social crisis, it says.

Associated Press
Published April 17, 2007

NEW YORK - Citing bleak data on incarceration, joblessness and AIDS, the National Urban League said Monday that problems facing black men represent America's most serious social crisis and proposed an aggressive campaign to provide them with more opportunities.

The 97-year-old black empowerment organization, in its annual State of Black America report, called for universal early-childhood education, more second-chance programs for school dropouts and ex-offenders, and expanded use of all-male schools that have longer class hours and emphasize mentoring.

Urban League president Marc H. Morial said there are successful black men, "but for all the Barack Obamas, Tony Dungys and Colin Powells out there ... there are many more black men who face very limited opportunities and diminished expectations."

The report did highlight a few bright spots: for example, the improved readiness level of children entering elementary school.

However, the report cited a widening gap after elementary school as blacks begin to fall behind on standardized tests.

By high school, blacks are more likely to drop out - 15 percent compared to 12 percent for whites. For black males, the percentage rises to 18 percent compared to 14 percent of white males, the report said.

The Urban League also recommended increased federal support for a summer jobs program, and stressed that any overall progress will need a boost from parents.

"They must continually talk to their children about how much better off they will be by graduating from high school and college," it said.


A comparison

- Black men are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white males, a 9.5 percent unemployment rate vs. a 4 percent rate.

- Black men earn 74 percent as much as white men, $34,443 vs. $46,807 in annual median income.

- Black men are nearly seven times as likely as white men to be incarcerated.

- Black males between 15 and 34 are nine times as likely to be killed by firearms and nearly eight times as likely to suffer from AIDS.

Source: National Urban League