Dream and Reality: The Modern Black Struggle for Freedom and Equality

By Jeannine Swift | Go to book overview

same period.

The picture differs for Black Americans. (See Table 5.) The percentage that family households were of all households declined from 83 to 72 between 1960 and 1985. Over the same period, the percentage of married couples declined from 61 to 37 percent of all family households, and the proportion of female-headed households rose from 19 percent to 31 percent of family households, an increase much greater than the comparable figure for whites.

How do these differences in the distribution of black and white households affect the condition of housing occupied and the risk of homelessness? One cannot say precisely. In general, one would expect family households, especially married couples, to have greater demand for higher quality units than non-family households; income, however, would determine the effectiveness of this demand (i.e., the ability of households to obtain the desired housing). Table 6 reveals that among all races, blacks, and whites, in 1985, married couples had the highest median incomes and therefore the greatest effective demand. Since a smaller proportion of black than of white households is married couples, blacks, collectively, would have less effective demand and therefore, collectively, might live in housing of lesser quality than would households of other racial groups. Thus, since the family composition and income distribution of black households differ from those of either white households or households of all racial groups, one could believe that the median ratios of rent-as-a-percent-of-income and of income-to-value for black households mask greater variance than these same medians for white households or for households of all races. More specifically, the 31 percent of black households headed by females in 1985 with median incomes of about $9,600 could represent a sizable number of households at risk of homelessness if they live in markets in which 30 percent of their incomes, roughly $240 a month, could only acquire substandard housing.( 10) (See Table 6.)


CONCLUSIONS

From the 1960s to the 1980s, although the housing situation of black Americans has improved with respect to condition and segregation, disparities remain. In addition, it may be true that black households are disproportionately disadvantaged by contemporary problems such as homelessness.

The percentages of black households housed comparably to households of all races continue to approach parity but only over gaps as large as decades. For example, although the 22 percent of black renter households in crowded units in 1970 reflects a 20 percentage point decline from this figure in 1940, it was 1950 when 22 percent of renter households of all races had lived in crowded units! It took 20 years for black renter households to "improve" to the level of residential crowdedness experienced by renter households of all races in 1950. Progess is evident, however; by 1980, the percentage of crowded black renter households equaled the percentage of crowded renter households of all races in 1970!

Thus, the dream and the reality continue to diverge, but the extent of the divergence appears to be lessening by some measures.

-98-

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Dream and Reality: The Modern Black Struggle for Freedom and Equality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: A Tale of Two and One-Half Decades 3
  • Notes 11
  • 2: A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. 13
  • 3: Rediscovering Women Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement 19
  • Conclusion 26
  • Notes 26
  • 4: The Civil Rights Movement: Upheaval and Organization 29
  • Conclusion 39
  • Notes 40
  • 5: Blacks and the New South: Civil Rights in the Eighties 43
  • Introduction 43
  • Conclusion 49
  • Notes 50
  • 6: Improving the Plight of Black, Inner-City Youths: Whose Responsibility? 53
  • Notes 65
  • 7: Racial Attitudes of Black and White Adolescents Before and After Desegregation 69
  • Conclusion 73
  • Notes 74
  • 8: The Ills of Integration: A Black Perspective 77
  • Introduction 77
  • Notes 84
  • 9: A Dream Deferred for Quality Education: Civil Rights Legislation and De Facto Segregation in the Cincinnati Schools, 1954-1986 87
  • Notes 91
  • 10: The Housing Conditions of Black Americans: 1960s-1980s 93
  • Conclusion 98
  • Notes 105
  • 11: The Collapse of the Employment Policy Agenda: 1964-1981 107
  • Introduction 107
  • Conclusion 120
  • Notes 121
  • 12: Black Workers at Risk: Jobs for Life or Death 125
  • Conclusion 131
  • Notes 133
  • 13: "Where Do We Go from Here" 137
  • Notes 144
  • Index 147
  • About the Editor and the Contributors 153
  • Hofstra University's Cultural and Intercultural Studies Coordinating Editor, Alexej Ugrinsky 157
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