In 1952, a black writer named Ralph Ellison wrote à bîîk about blacks in the U.S.A. and entitled it The Invisible Man. Since the 1960s, blacks have become more visible, especially on TV. Networks and advertisers realize that 12% of Americans are black, and that they, too, arå consumers. Now, there are black models in TV commercials, black newscasters, and black actors and actresses in a wide variety of TV shows. Blacks also appear frequently in movies.
Black leaders of the 1970s and 1980s have worked hard to increase two kinds of blacks power — economic and political. Of course, there is a connection between these two, since more political power for blanks can lead to increased federal and state spending for programs to meet their greatest needs— education, financial assistance, job training, and housing.
Many urban blacks, still live in neighborhoods that are in depressingly poor condition, with, deteriorating buildings and empty lots full of weeds and broken glass. In these slum areas, the crime rate is high, drug pushers and addicts are commonplace, and the fear of teenage gangs makes residents afraid to go out after dark.
Poverty continues to bå an overwhelming problem for blacks as they remain far behind white Americana and somewhat behind other minority groups in income and employment levels. The unemployment rate for blacks, about 10%, is more than double that of whites. The median family Income for black families is about 518,000,compared to $32,000 for whites. About one-third of all blacks (and about one-half of all black children) are poor. The high rate of poverty is largely because many blacks do not have skills that are needed for better-paying jobs.
Realising that more education will help them get better jobs, blacks are staying in school longer now than in past decodes. In 1960, only about 38% of young black adults finished high school. Today, the figure is about 72%. In 1970, about 440,000 blacks were enrolled in college. By 1986, the figure was uð to 820,000.
However, the percentage of black high school graduates enrolling in college has been dropping in recent years, although most colleges and universities recruit blacks actively and offer special services to help them succeed. Many blacks who begin college do not finish, sometimes båñàuså of academic difficulties, often because of family financial problems.
Blacks are also trying to improve their financial position by operating their own businesses. There are now more than 200,000 black owned companies in the USA.
In politics, black gains have been impressive. Now that more blacks are voting, more are getting elected. In 1987, 6,681 blacks held elected positions in local, state, and federal government, compared to 1,472 In 1970. Among these were 303 black mayors (several of major cities), 311 state legislators, and 23 representatives in Congress. One of the most well-known black politicians is the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who received impressive numbers of votes in his campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president. However, blacks are still underrepresented in government; with 12% of the population, they hold only 1.3% of the elected offices.
Contributions —past and present.
The chief influence of the American Negro culture — nationally and internationally— has båen in the field of music. The familiar Negro spirituals, the unusual rhythms and harmonies of Jazz, the haunting blues melodies — all these originated with the Negro slaves. It is often said that what is best and most original in American popular music comes from the Negro idiom.
Many blacks have become famous entertainers or athletes. Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby are just two of several famous black comedians. Two superstars - singer Michael Jackson and basketball player Michael Jordan - have become national idols of the young. In intellectual fields as well, blacks have made great contributions. Many are highly respected professional people - teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and ministers. One of the most interesting of black American scholars was George Washington Carver the famous botanist. Carver began his life as a slave. Later, he revolutionized the agriculture of the South. Carver also developed more than 300 products from the peanut (including soap and ink) and 118 products from the sweet potato (including flour, shoe polish, and candy). Among the many outstanding black American authors ofthe past and present are poets Gwendolyn Ârîîks and Màóà Angelou and novelists James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Thurgood Marshall has been serving on the Supreme Court since 1967.
Given an equal opportunity to learn and to work, black Americans will contribute even more to this country. In order to make full use of its human resources, the United States must make sure that its customs and institutions extend equal privileges to all Americans.