By Raynard Jackson
As the country and the world begin to focus on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, this is a good time to revisit the real goals of the March. Of course, it is most remembered for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Official, it was the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”
As a result of this march and the Selma-to-Montgomery March two years later, we now have 42 members the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and our first Black president. The march, without question, lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1963, Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
But when you look at the congressional districts represented by these members of the CBC, you find the dreamed has turned into a nightmare. Examples of this pathology are: Los Angeles, Cleveland, New York City, and Detroit, to name a few. Unemployment rates in these cities are above the national average for Blacks (7.3), teenage pregnancy is off the charts, crime is up, high school dropout rates are climbing.
These issues have more to do with ideology more than race. These members of Congress are looking for the government to solve these problems, as opposed to realizing that it has more to do with a lack of opportunity (job, education, etc.).
On the national level, President Obama has done even worse. Early in his administration, he made it perfectly clear that, “I’m not the president of Black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.” With that statement, I knew we were in trouble.
Black unemployment was 12.7 percent in January 2009 when Obama took office. The rate peaked at 16.7 percent in August 2011. Although it fell to 12.6 percent in July, its lowest level since 2009, it was still double the White rate of 6.6 percent.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, Black unemployment peaked at 12.1 percent in December 2008. No longer can Obama and Democrats blame all the negative pathologies facing the Black community on George W. Bush and the Republicans. Remember, the Democrats controlled the White House, Senate, and the House during Obama’s first two years in office.
In January of 2010, a Pew poll showed that the percentage of Blacks who thought they were better off than they were five years prior had almost doubled since 2007. This same poll showed that Blacks also believed that the standard of living gap between Whites and Blacks was shrinking.
The only problem with this assessment was that it was not true. Blacks are worse off under Obama than any time since WWII. The gap between White and Black wealth and income has widened under Obama.
Under Obama, White America has 22 times more wealth than Blacks and the education gap between White and Black has grown steadily.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led to specific legislation that any objective observer can point to and measure tangible, positive results for the Black community. The march was emotional, but with tangible goals in mind.
We have the first Black president of the U.S., but yet the Black community is far worse off now than under the previous president. Yes, it feels good to have a Black president, but it would feel even better if that president addressed the unique issues affecting the Black community.
I find it really troublesome that the first Black president is presiding over the steepest decline in key Black economic indicators since World War II.
No one can argue against the notion that Blacks have been blinded by their emotions when it comes to the diminished quality of life for Blacks under Obama.
So, in two weeks, as the old line civil rights groups gather to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; please be mindful of what the speakers have to say. They will blame the current plight of Blacks on George W. Bush, Whites, and Republicans.
They will not blame the president who has presided over the worse economy for Blacks in a generation simply because he makes them feel good; and with liberalism, intent is always more important than fact. This year’s march will turn out to be more like a nightmare; and the only way to get out of a bad dream is to wake up!
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.