President Barack Obama said on Friday that America’s history of racial discrimination had contributed to a persistent economic gap between blacks and whites in the 50 years since Martin Luther King’s landmark “I have a dream” speech.
Obama said his own story showed the “enormous strides” the United States had made since King’s speech, but as Washington commemorates the anniversary of King’s address, the disparity between black and white income remained.
“What we’ve also seen is that the legacy of discrimination, slavery, Jim Crow, has meant that some of the institutional barriers for success for a lot of groups still exist,” Obama, the first black U.S. president, said in answering a question at a town hall meeting at Binghamton University in New York state.
“You know, African-American poverty in this country is still significantly higher than other groups. Same is true for Latinos. Same is true for Native Americans,” he said.
By Jeff Mason & Ian Simpson
“The tendency to suggest somehow that government is taking something from you and giving it to somebody else and your problems will be solved if we just ignore them or don’t help them … is something that we have to constantly struggle against, whether we’re black or white or whatever color we are,” he said.
Data shows that five decades after King’s speech during the “March for Jobs and Freedom” in Washington on August 28, 1963, the black-white economic gap has persisted despite huge gains in education and political clout by blacks.