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105 Law > Constitutional Law  
Taking A Stand On Civil Rights

Q- How do you view civil rights in the United States today?

A-I would like to say that things have never been better, and in many areas that would be true. Opportunities for women, the disabled, the elderly and those of various ethnic and religious backgrounds have expanded so that more individuals in each category have access to educational and career opportunities than ever before.

However, I think we made a wrong turn along the road towards justice and harmonious race relations in this country. Everyone is seeing the results now in the unrest on campuses and the return of so-called hate crimes. Some predict even greater troubles in the future.

Q-What do you suggest?

A-First, we have to define the problem .

Second, see where we are and how we got here.

Third, determine our real goal.

Fourth, decide how to reach it.

Q-That sounds like a large order for a short discussion.

A-In condensed form:

I see our problem as trying to provide equal economic, social and political opportunities to relatively powerless minorities while not trampling the so-called rights of the more powerful majority.

Unfortunately, we have managed to make all parties concerned feel they have been unjustly treated at the hands of government. I would say this has happened because, as a nation we were impatient, proceeded too quickly and used force.

Q-That defines the problem. Now for a brief look at where we are now, which should reveal the extent of the problem.

A-Let's look at some statistics: About one percent of the entire population is made up of about 2.5 million black males age 16 to 25. 647,000 are in high school and 351,000 are in college according to the 1990 census. Another million are gainfully employed and 163,000 are in the military.

Statistics show annual wage and salary income for 25-34 year old black men increased from forty-seven percent to sixty percent of that of white men between 1940-1960 and from sixty percent to seventy-five percent between 1960-1980!

Q-But what about all the young black males that want to be working and can't find jobs?

A-I refer you to all the arguments that were brought up to fight the minimum wage laws. Unfortunately the high unemployment rates among young and entry level workers---black and white---are proof of the validity of those argument against a minimum wage.

Q-Has unemployment gotten worse among black males?

A-In 1962, almost sixty percent of young black males were employed, but by 1985 this figure had fallen to forty-four percent. But there are estimates that more than 25 percent of black males in this age group derive their income from illegal activities---so if you want to figure in illegal activities, the employment rate has not declined that much.

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 Additional Info
 No. 344
 Posted on 9 June, 2006
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