State of Black America Report: Minorities See Boost in Equality, But Gap Still Exists

National Urban League tackles critical issues on jobs, education and justice


Today, the National Urban League released its 39th edition of the State of Black America—Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs + Justice, evaluating these issues and their impact on equality in America.

The organization says “the state of black America is in crisis,” and the report’s findings provide a sobering but necessary look into the challenges affecting the black community. This year’s report includes the 2015 Equality Index, a critical and quantitative tool for tracking racial equality in America. A key takeaway is that the index for black Americans is 72.2%, compared with a revised figure of 71.5% for 2014. The Hispanic index is 77.7%, up from 75% a year ago.

“The 2015 State of Black America— Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs + Justice — and its corresponding Equality Index findings are a clarion call that a more comprehensive, inclusive, and on-the-ground recovery is necessary to ensure a healthy future for our nation and that we cannot expect to successfully move forward when we are leaving so many behind,” said Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. “Few times in a nation’s history is its collective conscience shocked and awakened across racial, economic, generational, and even ideological lines as ours has been over the past year. We are in that moment, and as long as justice is challenged on any front, we will keep pushing on every front.”

For the first time the index includes a special feature on state-level K-12 education, documenting the extent of black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also includes rankings of U.S. cities, from most-to-least equal via the Black-White Index (70 cities) and Hispanic-White Index (72 cities), providing a revealing look at local dynamics beneath national trends.

Other key takeaways from the report on education, wages, and cities include the following:

  • 57.6% of black freshmen graduate from high school in Nebraska compared with 88.8% whites.
  • However, in Vermont, black students are more likely to graduate from high school at a rate of 100%, compared with 89.9% of whites. This is also evident in Maine, Arizona, and North Dakota, which all have small black populations.
  • The black unemployment rate was 23% when the index was derived, even though the black-white uemployment gap was relatively low.
  • Among Washington, D.C., 4th-graders, 14.7% of black, 76.6% of white, and 22.8% of Hispanic students tested at or above proficient in reading. The smallest black-white reading proficiency gap was in Hawaii, where the index was 81%. Wisconsin has the largest Grade 4 proficiency gap in math. Washington, D.C., has the largest Grade 4 reading profiency gap.
  • Black-white income equality is highest in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California, metro area. The median black household has 71 cents for every dollar of median white household income.

Information for the report was compiled via existing statistics as well as a lineup of expert contributors across areas including job creation, transportation, education, city revitalization, criminal justice, entrepreneurship, and media images. Authors include Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser; film/television producer Debra Martin Chase; attorney Benjamin Crump; U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx; Gary, Indiana, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; NEA President Lily Eskelsen García; Radio One Inc. President and CEO/TV One Chairman and CEO Alfred Liggins; Mayor of Sacramento, California, and U.S. Conference of Mayors President Kevin Johnson; W.K. Kellogg Foundation President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron; and “The Three Doctors”: Dr. Sampson Davis, Dr. Rameck Hunt, and Dr. George Jenkins.

This week the organization is hosting a series of discussions on its findings featuring experts and panelists. To learn more about the discussions and to download the all-digital edition of the report, visit There you will find select data and report findings, Web series, press materials, infographics and charts, e-book purchase information, and year-round updates featuring new contributors.

You can also follow the social media hashtag #SaveOurCities for updates on the report. Check out social media insights from today’s event, where leaders including Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser gave remarks on employment and pushing for opportunities for African Americans on the next page …

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