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Dr. King’s 50-year anniversary march

Armstrong Williams | 8/29/2013, 9:53 a.m. | Updated on 8/29/2013, 9:53 a.m.
Last week, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter, Dr. Bernice King, led an impressive 50-year anniversary march honoring her ...
Armstrong Williams

Last week, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter, Dr. Bernice King, led an impressive 50-year anniversary march honoring her father’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. President Barack Obama, along with two former U.S. presidents, and many celebrities and dignitaries were in attendance. While participating in my first ever march, I was somewhat surprised at how many necessary, relevant issues of today were overlooked and not considered by the impressive platform of speakers.

The Black community collectively faces a series of problems, each related to the others, each compounding one another, and we must face them all together. We as a nation cannot ignore any of them. Interest groups, fundraisers and politicians would like most to believe that circumstances can be changed by retooling underprivileged areas, as though people were robots, without any study of behaviors and free choices. It’s about as effective as bringing a tennis racket to a baseball field.

Those in authority have their own agenda; they treat moral transgressions like food they pass over in a buffet line—they don’t want to hear or think about them, so they don’t. Against these well-funded politicians and interest groups feasting on the “social ills” of the Black community— as though they are inanimate objects unable to make their own choices— we must affirm their freedom and look at the choices many of them make.

First, there is the family. Eighty-five percent of poor Black children live in single-mother households. Such children are four times more likely to live in poverty as those with two parents. Because a majority of Black youth is being raised by single mothers, we must study these mothers. I have found that 38 percent of these mothers live below the poverty line; 62 percent of these mothers had never been married; and almost half of them were also raised by single mothers! The lack of a proper family structure has become a revolving door of ill behavior. Is it possible that a horrible family structure could spill over to other areas of life, including employment and education?

Within the Black community, there has been much talk of bringing about a change to every person of color, and while the methods to bring about this change are constantly debated, many Black people, including myself, agree that a change is needed.

There is crime. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, while Blacks only make up 12 percent of the population, they account for 44 percent of all prisoners—the majority of any race in prison. Demico Boothe, a former prisoner turned writer, composed a book titled “Why Are There So Many Black Men in Prison?” He writes, “African-American males are being imprisoned at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Out of the 10.4 million Black adult males in the U.S. population, nearly 1.5 million are in prisons and jails, with another 3.5 million more on probation or parole or who have previously been on probation or parole. Black males make up nearly 75 percent of the total prison population.” It is estimated that one out of every 10 Black males will end up in some form of a correctional facility in their lifetimes.