DURHAM -- State NAACP President, Dr. William J. Barber was one of five panelists discussing the implications of a recently released study on the impact of African Americans on the state’s economy, which aired in January 2008 on UNC-TV, public broadcasting.
The study, performed by John D. Kasarda, Ph.D. and James H. Johnson, Ph.D. of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, reported that North Carolina’s African American population has grown by almost a half million between 1980 and 2004, and this growth has yielded $44.7 billion to the state’s economy through purchases and taxes. While this impact is concentrated primarily along the I-85/I-40 corridor, the black population---newcomers and returnees are represented in all 100 counties.
Key findings further revealed that although the median education level is the same for blacks and whites, there is a disparity in median household income of $19,570 between the two groups, and a difference in per-capita income of $11,970. Low-wage jobs account for the disparities in earnings and income.
Additional panelists included: Dr. Julianne Malveaux, nationally syndicated columnist and the 15th President of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro; Julius Chambers, Esq., esteemed civil rights attorney, former Chancellor of North Carolina Central University and currently Director of UNC Center for Civil Rights; Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr., Director, Urban Investment Strategies Center; and President of the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development, Ms. Andrea Harris, who helped fund the study.
Strategies suggested to expand the economic impact of North Carolina ’s black population were:
1) Increase offshore outsourcing among black businesses to sustain profitability;
2) Invest in self-employment training programs for ex-offenders that foster an above-ground economy lowering recidivism rates, generating spin-off jobs and to “stem the flow of young blacks into the criminal justice system.”
3) Improve educational opportunities and outcomes for African American youth Other key points from the panel discussion focused upon challenges in higher education ---the cost of a college education, the effect of debt upon college graduates and the lack of resources for historically black colleges in our state.
The panel suggested that communities and organizations statewide need to read the report and determine “what does this mean to us” in order to facilitate implementation of the recommendations enclosed as well as to develop specific programs that address site specific needs of individual communities and regions. Questions from the audience presented health care challenges---cost and access, concern about the proceeds from North Carolina ’s lottery; and next steps.
A copy of the report can be downloaded at www.kenaninstiute.edu
Rev. Barber tied the discussion to NAACP’s H K on J agenda that incorporated comprehensive reform legislation presented to the NC General Assembly last February at the historic march on Jones Street (in Raleigh) of 5,000 people representing over 70 social justice organizations, anti-war, anti-poverty and anti-racist groups from across the state. Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization whose mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. For more information, call the State Office at 866-626-2227 or e-mail NC NAACP Executive Director Amina Turner: turner at naacpnc.org.