Suddenly, it’s 1964 again. Racial tension is in the air. Cries of “injustice” and “police brutality” occupy the headlines. However, the epicenter has moved from Mississippi and Harlem to Ferguson, Missouri, a small municipality that occupies a slice of northeastern St. Louis County.
Unfortunately for the peace-loving citizens in that community, those fanning the flames that have led to the violence are stuck in 1964. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and members of the New Black Panther Party have never moved on. They are in a time warp. In fact, their relevance depends on being able to make disadvantaged blacks believe that the system is rigged against them. That’s how they get their power and earn the money to buy their expensive suits and chauffeur-driven limousines.
Let’s pretend (like Sharpton and Jackson) that there is no Civil Rights Act and no Voting Rights Act. In fact, let’s pretend that African-Americans now are not voting at a higher rate than white Americans. Let’s pretend that the the two most-powerful people in the free world – the president of the United States and his attorney general, Eric Holder – are not black. Let’s pretend that the number of black officeholders has not risen dramatically. In 1970, when researchers began tracking these statistics, that number was a mere 1,469. In 2011, it topped 10,500.
In 1964, roughly 25 percent of blacks had completed high school. Today it is roughly 80 percent. Furthermore, the number of blacks who hold a bachelor’s degree or better has increased from 4 percent to 15 percent, with another 4.3 percent holding advance degrees.
Though blacks make up only 11 percent of the U.S. civilian workforce, they represent 18 percent of all U.S. government workers.
Today, 27.4 percent of black households earn $50,000 or more per year, and there are 800,000 black-owned business. Three of America’s Fortune 500 companies are headed by a black CEO. In short, despite the recession and the current economic policies of this administration that have hurt business in general, the sky is the limit for those who apply themselves and are willing to work hard.
This is reality in 2014, but unfortunately there is another reality. Twenty-four percent of blacks are living in poverty, which is almost twice the national average.
Countless researchers have demonstrated that the path to a stable income and economic success is to complete school, get a job, get married (and stay married) and have children, in that order.
We need to go back to 1964 and learn from our mistakes that have hurt so many, especially in the black community. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among blacks went from 14 percent in the ’60s to the whopping 74 percent it is today.
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson began the so-called War on Poverty, which added layer upon layer to the welfare state. Since that time, the message we have been sending to young girls is: “Get pregnant, stay single and the government will provide for all your needs.” Furthermore, there is no accountability. It appears to be quite a deal, but any thinking person knows that it is a cruel trap.
Between 1950 and 1965, the black poverty rate had been cut in half. Before the War on Poverty began, the incomes of blacks in the skill trades was growing at a faster rate than that of whites, and the number of blacks entering high level positions was on the upswing. After 1964, that trend reversed.
In the 1980s we added “value-neutral” education to the mix, and the moral decline continued. We have created an entitled generation with no work ethic and no respect for authority. That is reinforced by the media and by our elected representatives who want to throw money at every problem and – above all – don’t wish to offend anyone.
That is why this black president won’t speak out on the real issues that are hurting many in the black community. That is why you have racial jihadists like Sharpton and Jackson who want to excuse all antisocial black behavior as a product of racism and a biased criminal justice system.
This is a disservice to the poor and disadvantaged. It is a disservice to the many law abiding citizens in Ferguson.
If we are to go back to 1964, we need a “do-over” on the programs that have robbed the poor of their confidence, their initiative and their pride.
Media wishing to interview Jane Chastain, please contact [email protected].