FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 12, 2011
Community Leaders Convene to Determine How to Reclaim the Dream
Hundreds of community leaders from across the nation will meet today in Washington D.C. to advance an ambitious national agenda to substantially reduce social and economic disparities for black men and boys.
The meeting will be held in person and virtually, connecting national thought leaders as well as state and local advocates. They will discuss strategies outlined in We Dream a World: The 2025 Vision for Black Men and Boys, a new report formally released today just ahead of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, by CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy and the 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys. The report identifies concrete policy solutions to close educational achievement gaps, ensure workforce success, reduce health disparities, improve conditions for low-income fathers and improve the overall well being of black men, their families, and communities.
"We've convened this meeting because we're tired of the status quo," said Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt, We Dream a World author and senior policy analyst at CLASP. "Name the physical, social, economic or community affliction, and you know that black boys and men fare worse, often far worse, than their counterparts. Our goal is not to point out the disparities, which many of us know about all too well, but to create a local, state and national movement for real change. Sound public policy and solid leadership has a role to play in reversing these abysmal trends. Neither the nation nor the African American community can afford to lose yet another generation of young black men."
The We Dream A World vision is the culmination of five years of research and dialogue aimed at taking a candid look at outcomes and conditions for black men and boys and what it will take to improve their lives. The seeds of the project and the 2025 Campaign were planted when a group of thought leaders met to discuss the challenges facing black males. By 2007 the campaign had cemented its grand vision - ensuring that by the time black boys born in 2007 turn 18 (in 2025), the nation's policies and social mores will have changed drastically enough that collectively they will fare far better than today's young black men.
Currently, less than half of black male students graduate from high school on time and only 11 percent complete a bachelor's degree. According to the latest Bureau of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate for black men is 16.5 percent, nearly double the 8.5 percent rate for their white counterparts. And among black males with a bachelor's degree, only 43 percent have a job that pays at least $14.51 per hour, or enough to put them significantly above the federal poverty level if they have to support a family of four.
"This work requires an unprecedented level of collaboration and alignment of resources," said Greg Hodge of Community Development Associates. "Our window of opportunity is rapidly closing and the needs of young people are painfully urgent."