Today In Black History: February 2, 1948
- President Truman sent Congress a special message urging adoption of a civil rights program, including a fair employment practices commission and anti-lynching and anti-poll tax measures.
In his message, President Truman wrote:
Today, the American people enjoy more freedom and opportunity than ever before. Never in our history has there been better reason to hope for the complete realization of the ideals of liberty and equality.
We shall not, however, finally achieve the ideals for which this Nation was founded so long as any American suffers discrimination as a result of his race, or religion, or color, or the land of origin of his forefathers.
Unfortunately, there still are examples—flagrant examples—of discrimination which are utterly contrary to our ideals. Not all groups of our population are free from the fear of violence. Not all groups are free to live and work where they please or to improve their conditions of life by their own efforts. Not all groups enjoy the full privileges of citizenship and participation in the government under which they live.
We cannot be satisfied until all our people have equal opportunities for jobs, for homes, for education, for health, and for political expression, and until all our people have equal protection under the law.
So, how are we doing, President Truman?
A 2003 study found that whites with felonies were more likely to be called for interviews than black applicants without criminal records. The results of this study suggest that black men must work at least twice as hard as equally qualified whites simply to overcome the stigma of their skin color.
The unemployment rate among black people is about double that among whites, as it has been for most of the past six decades.(1 & 2)
Black families are 7x more likely than whites to end up in the shelter system, according to The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness. (3)
Children of color face harsher discipline, disproportionate referrals to special education classes, and are more likely to fall victim to the school-to-prison pipeline than their white peers. Black boys are 3x more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their white peers and 2.5x LESS likely to be enrolled in gifted and talented programs, even if their prior achievement reflects the ability to succeed.
Schools are more segregated now than 40 years ago.(3, 4, 5)
According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “Despite the existence of civil rights legislation equal treatment and equal access are not a reality for racial/ethnic minorities and women in the current climate of the health care industry. Many barriers limit both the quality of health care and utilization for these groups.” Whites are more likely to receive more, and more thorough, diagnostic work and better treatment and care than people of color — even when controlling for income, education, and insurance.(6)
A number of proposed voter ID laws across the states disproportionately affect and exclude black people, and even more so if they are poor or female. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which contained a coverage formula that Congress has used to monitor states with a history of discrimination. Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision is “a serious setback for voting rights.”
(7 & 8)
EQUAL LEGAL PROTECTION:
Despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than African Americans, African Americans are incarcerated on drug charges at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites. The War on Drugs disproportionately gives “felon” labels to African Americans and opens the door to legal discrimination that can no longer be overtly based on race.
(9 & 10)