State of black America

By Greg Raleigh – – Tuesday, March 5, 2019


As we reflect on the celebrations of Black History Month, I am often asked if the Rev. would be happy with today’s African-American community in America.

I do believe would attempt to highlight African American progress such as improved access to educational and economic opportunities. However, , together with many African-American educators such as myself, would point out that the desire to attain material wealth has overshadowed a much deeper issue, our ongoing moral decline in the African-American community. “Success, recognition and conformity are bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority,” according to .

It is shocking, and dismaying, that in 2019 the African-American community is near the bottom in every economic category, including overall health, education and employment. “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically, intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education,” he said.

Additionally, we appear unable (or unwilling) to reduce crime in our own neighborhoods. He would question the success of self-proclaimed leaders’ inability to influence our youth in positive ways. believed that “True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” Self-discipline, accountability and a sense of direction are sorely missing throughout many African-American neighborhoods these qualities, qualities that produce healthy and mature adults.

More than anything, would be deeply unhappy with the decline of the African-American family. Sadly, the majority of families continue to have no meaningful paternal presence. He would recognize that the best example for children is to see two adults, working as team, in order to create a loving and nurturing home. He would emphasize the importance of the family unit.

would be unhappy with the increase in secularism and would point to the necessity for spirituality and organized religion in order to stem the moral decline in America. “The richer we have become materially the poorer we become spiritually and morally.” He would be unhappy to see that many parents have allowed computers and other technology to have a greater influence over the development of our children. That technology also desensitizes our youth to the point where they commit unexplainable acts of violence. He would remind us of the maxim “spare the rod spoil the child” to demonstrate what happens when active parenting is absent regarding steering our kids down a productive and positive path.

would remind us of our moral obligations, both as citizens and public officials, to shape our public policies to improve the quality of lives for all people. He would tell us that it is OK to point out the wrongs of people without attacking anyone personally. He would be an advocate of the mantra “love the sinner, hate the sin” as we work to establish meaningful and enduring progress in an ever-changing national landscape.

He would be unhappy with the lack of reinvestment by successful African-Americans in every profession that has seen an increase of African-American presence such as sports, music, movies, television, business, medicine and the law! According to , “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “‘What are you doing for others?’”

would be unhappy with the African-American community’s “State of Denial” regarding these many urgent social issues. In his final speech, said “I’ve seen the promised land.” Shockingly, 50 years later, he would be disappointed that we have not come together as a cohesive, strong and unwavering coalition in order to achieve his bright vision. There is no time like the present to make his vision a reality for all African-Americans.

• Greg Raleigh serves as commissioner to the D.C. Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Nutrition and works with the American Bar Association’s Commission on Youth at Risk. He is the founder of the non-profit Food for Fuel.

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