Let Freedom Ring: A Documentary History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement

By Peter B. Levy | Go to book overview

Appendix STATISTICAL PROFILE OF BLACK AMERICA

Through the use of charts and graphs this appendix presents an overview of the state of black America, its size, distribution, health, economic circumstances, education, and political standing in modern times. Three themes deserve emphasis. First, the figures reveal a silent revolution in the state of black America in the twentieth century. This revolution was demographic in nature. In 1930, over 75 percent of all blacks lived in the South and most of them lived in rural areas. By the 1980s only about one-half of all blacks lived in the South and the majority of blacks, nationwide, lived in urban areas. Second, the figures demonstrate that while blacks improved their material circumstances they remained unequal to whites. Blacks still lived shorter lives, were more likely to be unemployed and poor, earned less money, were less likely to own a home, and achieved fewer years of education than whites. Third, the figures show that while de jure segregation or Jim Crow laws were abolished, schools, neighborhoods, and other facets of American life remain de facto segregated. Many blacks still live in all-black neighborhoods and attend all-black schools; many white still grow up in all-white suburbs and attend all-white schools. While black voter registration and the number of black elected officials have increased dramatically, blacks are more likely to vote for a white candidate than vice versa. Even if blatant forms of prejudice and bigotry have diminished, such realities about American life demonstrate the depth of racism and its legacy in America. The problems that plague millions of black Americans may not be intractable, but it is unlikely that piecemeal reforms will produce genuine equality. Only a mass movement, driven by ordinary men and women, can do that.

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