Saturday, June 17, 2017

OPINION_ Why Obama’s presidency didn’t lead to black progress



Why Obama’s presidency didn’t lead to black progress

By Jason Riley

June 17, 2017 | 10:43am

Though a historic achievement, Barack Obama's presidency was not the answer to black inequities. AP

Since the 1960s, black leaders have placed a heavy emphasis on gaining political power, and Barack Obama’s presidency represented the apex of those efforts. The assumption — rarely challenged — is that black political clout must come before black social and economic advancement. But as JASON L. RILEY argues in this excerpt from his new book, “False Black Power” (Templeton Press), political success has not been a major factor in the rise of racial and ethnic groups from poverty to prosperity.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was followed by large increases in black elected officials. In the Deep South, black officeholders grew from 100 in 1964 to 4,300 in 1978. By the early 1980s, major US cities with large black populations, such as Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia, had elected black mayors. Between 1970 and 2010, the number of black elected officials nationwide increased from fewer than 1,500 to more than 10,000.

Yet the socioeconomic progress that was supposed to follow in the wake of these political gains never materialized. During an era of growing black political influence, blacks as a group progressed at a slower rate than whites, and the black poor actually lost ground.



Obama’s election was the end product of a civil-rights strategy that prioritized political power to advance blacks, and eight years later we once again learned the limitations of that strategy.


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