Written by Tim Pulliam
In May, the CBCF takes a moment to acknowledge the historic Brown v. Board ruling that ended the legal foundation for discrimination on May 17, 1954. For more than six decades, African Americans have made significant strides as a result of the court decision. Today, we are afforded more educational and professional opportunities. President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and now Attorney General Loretta Lynch represent the progression we have made from the days of Jim Crow in 1954. But even with this groundbreaking ruling, the CBCF realizes that discriminatory practices still exists in our educational system, and more needs to be done to close the achievement gap among our black youth—particularly young black men.
According to the latest report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the nation’s black male students graduate from high school at 59 percent, Latino males at 65 percent and white or non-Latino males at 80 percent. In 2012, the black male graduation rate was 52 percent, Latino males 58 percent and white or non-Latino males at 78 percent. Although the statistics seem to have slightly improved in each category, the report suggests that the achievement gap still persists between students of color and their white peers.
The CBCF calls attention to this issue by examining the systemic factors involved—many of which have been highlighted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Factors like the lack of college-ready curriculums in black school districts compared to predominantly white school districts; another factor is the absence of qualified teachers educating our students, who actually look like the students they teach; and investing in high quality early child care and education programs. The CBCF addresses these issues through our Annual Legislative Conference, and by having regular policy discussions, community forums and town halls throughout the year.
For the black students who have academically excelled despite the educational obstacles some of them may face, the CBCF provides scholarship opportunities through our Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Spouses Education Fund. Since 1988, the CBC Spouses Education fund has provided $11 million in scholarships for deserving students nationwide.
I appreciate the doors Brown v. Board opened for black people. Without this legislation, African Americans would not enjoy the privileges and rights our ancestors were denied. Although the struggle for equity in educating our youth still remains a challenge—I’m glad organizations like the CBCF, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and many others are working collaboratively in hopes of eliminating these disparities within the next 60 years.
Tim Pulliam is an award-winning journalist. He’s covered a range of topics from politics, minority and community issues to tropical storms and crime. After serving nearly 10 years as a TV reporter/fill-in anchor in various television markets, Tim now handles public relations for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated. Tim is from Raleigh/Durham, NC. He is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University.