Disparities persist 60 years after passage of Civil Rights Act, report finds

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Black Americans have made significant advancements in the 60 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but economic, educational and voting rights disparities persist, according to a report by the National Urban League on the State of Black America.

“This year marks the 60th anniversary of that landmark legislation, but the journey toward racial justice in the United States is older than the nation itself, and nowhere near complete,” wrote Marc A. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.

“In the wake of the uprising triggered by George Floyd’s murder in 2020, the nation now finds itself swept into a backlash that presents the gravest threat to the Civil Rights Act in its relatively short history,” he added. 

One of those threats is the income gap, which the report found has not seen any significant change for more than two decades. On average, the report found, Black Americans make 64 percent of the income of white people. 

And though the number of Black students dropping out of primary education has decreased from just more than 13 percent in 2000 to nearly 4 percent in 2024, Black students remain more likely to have uncertified and inexperienced teachers than white students.

The report also called the Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling overturning affirmative action in higher education admissions “one of the most brazen attacks” on communities of color. 

Voting rights is another topic the report focuses on. 

Following the 2020 election, the report said, voter suppression tactics exploded in the form of laws that removed ballot boxes, enforced strict voter ID laws and purged registration rolls across the country.

“Doors have been opened in higher education, government and the private sector in that sixty year period. That’s important. Every measure shows progress,” Morial told the Associated Press. 

“But I would have thought we would have been much further along than we are in 2024 with respect to achieving a sense of parity in America,” Morial added.

Still, the report approved of President Biden’s policy agenda and promises, pointing out that his cabinet is reflective of the diversity of the nation. 

The report also highlighted how the Black unemployment rate under Biden decreased from 9.2 percent in January 2021 to 5.2 percent in January 2024. 

But Black voter participation is mixed. Though 69 percent of Black Americans registered to vote in 2020, an increase from 64 percent in 2000, only 42.3 percent of Black people voted in 2022, a steep decrease from 54 percent who cast their ballots in 2002.

To move toward parity between Black and white Americans, the report identifies several policy agendas to focus on in 2024, including student loan forgiveness and the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

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