Authors/Essays

State of Black America Authors and Essays

Each edition of the State of Black America contains thoughtful commentary and insightful analysis from leading figures and thought leaders in politics, the corporate arena, NGOs, academia and popular culture. Learn more about the dynamic authors who contributed essays spanning from education and entrepreneurship to media and social justice. 


 

Voter Suppression Stands as a Grave Threat to Democracy

Kristen Clarke
President & Executive Director
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

As the country remains focused on the ways in which Russia interfered with the integrity of the recent 2016 election, we must not forget to focus equal attention to the ongoing threat of voter suppression.  Voter suppression and ongoing voting discrimination stand as grave threats to American democracy.  Across the country, we are witnessing state and local officials take action to make it harder for African Americans and other minority communities to vote. From restrictive voter ID requirements to purges of the registration rolls, and from racial gerrymandering to the disenfranchisement of people with criminal histories, officials in some states are working hard to restrict access to the franchise for African Americans and other minority communities.  Through community vigilance and impact litigation, we can push back against voter suppression. 

The Black Diaspora Matters: Why the Black Immigrant Experience is Central to Lasting Social Change

Opal Tometi
Strategist, Writer and Community Organizer
Co-founder #BlackLivesMatter

The 21st century has ushered in vehement civic consciousness and engagement around the state of immigration and immigrant rights in the United States. Whether at the polls, on the House and Senate floors, or the studios of major news media outlets, the meaning and function of citizenship has been and will continue to be highly debated by all members of our society—from the most conservative to the most radical of perspectives.

Much is Required

Tony Allen, Ph.D.
Head of Corporate Reputation
Bank of America

Founding President
Metropolitan Wilmington
Urban League

I am a blessed Black man.  Against enormous odds with respect to my family background and prospects for economic mobility, I have received great opportunities in my life. Those opportunities have afforded me a good living, a respectable profile in the public square, and a resolute passion to serve others that I have always taken very seriously.  The old biblical adage, “To whom much is given, much is required” is the standard by which I have lived my life and, in my mind, should be the burning platform for every middle and upper class African American in the United States.

Can the Energy Industry Solve Persistent African-American Unemployment?

Donald Cravins Jr.
Senior Vice President for Policy and

Executive Director of the Washington Bureau

Late last year, the National Urban League released a report entitled, “21st Century Innovations in Energy: An Equity Framework.” The report is not intended to serve as an environmental position paper, but instead is an economic and inclusion report focusing on the expansive economic opportunities in the American energy industry. It provides: 1) an overview of the domestic electricity, solar, and oil and natural gas industries; 2) current employment numbers in each sector; and 3) economic and employment opportunities in each sector.

Crippling Progress: Can The Main Street Marshall Plan Survive Trump?

Dr. Bernard E. Anderson
Whitney M. Young, Jr. Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Presidential Economic Advisor, National Urban League

Racial inequality has long been a dominant feature of American economic and social life. Racial disparities in employment, income, and wealth are broad, deep, and persistent. For more than a century, the National Urban League has worked hard, and has deployed a variety of strategies, to eradicate racial inequality, strengthen the capacity of African Americans to fully participate in the economy, and secure equal opportunity for all.  The Main Street Marshall Plan is an effective, far-reaching instrument with the capacity to achieve those goals.

The Role and Obligations of African-American Mayors in the 21st Century

Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston, TX

To be an African-American mayor leading a city in the 21st century is not about “power” but about “possibilities.” With more than 470 African-American mayors leading cities across the United States, the lens of our leadership is shaped from our own personal experiences. Together, we collectively bring a perspective that allows for a spectrum of possibilities.

As city leaders, it is our obligation to ensure the fiscal responsibility of taxpayers’ contributions towards city operations, as well as address the pension liabilities of a city’s police, fire and civilian workforce. These very important, and very complicated issues, are just a few of the priorities mayors must tackle.  There is urgency in every moment, and expediency required in every decision.  But, we must be cautious not to become so caught up in the process of managing cities that we lose sight of the importance of being mayors of color, and the significance our governance has on our communities.

Mano a Mano: Working Together to Protect Our Rights and Advance Our Community Issues

Ben Monterroso
Executive Director
Mi Familia Vota

In his farewell address to the nation at the end of his eight years in office, President Obama urged Americans not to take our democracy for granted. Having become president during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and spearheading the economic recovery that allowed wages, incomes, home values and retirement accounts to rise again as poverty declined, Obama said our democracy will not work unless all of us, regardless of our station in life, have equal economic opportunity.

Obama cautioned, “Our economy doesn't work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class…stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic ideal.”

Bad Math: Subtracting Equity from Education Equals Diminished Returns

Rep. Bobby Scott 
United States Congress
3rd Congressional District, Virginia

African-American students are graduating high school and enrolling in college at higher rates than ever before, but despite much progress, the right to equal educational opportunity remains a struggle. Access to public education may have come a long way since the dark eras of slavery or the segregation of Jim Crow, but too many African-American students still attend underfunded public schools segregated by race and class, effectively denying them equal educational opportunity and the chance to succeed in college and career. In 1954, the Supreme Court, in the Brown v. Board of Education decision, found that,

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.

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