Maximizing on Our Progress

Michael F. Neidorff
Board Chairman of the National Urban League, 

Chairman, President and CEO of
Centene Corporation

As chairman of the National Urban League Board of Trustees, the board and I are pleased to present to you to the 2017 edition of the State of Black America®. This year’s theme is “Protect Our Progress.”

Economic indicators and experts agree that our country continues to make progress since the Great Recession. But for many African Americans, and others in urban and low-income communities, wide gaps of inequality in income, housing, and education remain.

At the National Urban League, we are focused on maximizing that progress; working to promote economic self-reliance, access to opportunity, social justice, and civil rights for underserved communities. As this year’s report confirms, while wide gaps remain, common sense, bipartisan solutions are possible.

Overcoming the challenges of economic and social inequality will require the commitment of every American, and the cooperation of businesses, civic organizations, governments, and individuals working together.

The business sector, partnering with the National Urban League, must take the lead in creating stronger, more economically viable and healthier communities across this nation. I strongly believe that businesses are particularly well suited to facilitate transformative partnerships between the public, private and social sectors, and are a leading catalyst for positive social change.

Centene Corporation’s Ferguson Missouri Service Center, for example, not only added 250 family-sustaining jobs to a challenged community, but in the year since it opened, it has also emerged as a national model for community-minded economic development.

By taking a holistic, socially responsible approach to every aspect of business, corporations can help lead the nation into greater economic and social stability—a positive cycle that benefits everyone.

I thank you for taking the time to examine this 2017 edition of the State of Black America®, and invite each of you to use this edition, and the recommendations found throughout, as a catalyst for building thoughtful solutions in support of your communities.