Disparities continue

Written by Rosa Colucci on .

Bill Steigerwald deserves kudos for his reporting on John Wesley Dobbs and Ray Sprigle, but his conclusions about race in America are premature ("Going Back to 'A Negro in the South,' " The Next Page, Aug. 23).

Perhaps the South is better integrated today than the North. But five years ago, a young black male in Georgia received 10 years in prison for sex with an underage white girl. Three years ago, during a schoolyard assault case in Jena, La., six black teens were greeted with nooses in trees. And there are still serious racial disparities in incarceration rates, sentencing and the death penalty. The need for extraordinary political pressure and civil rights action should warn us against complacency.

Even greater challenges remain on equality and social attitudes. Formal discrimination is illegal, but two years ago the Census Bureau found median income for black households is still barely two-thirds that of whites. And the first black president of the United States was elected last year to a torrent of abuse from North and South alike that has hardly abated. Attributing the slurs to a lunatic fringe is misleading. They began with coded appeals by opposition leaders during the conventions and are exacerbated to this day by mainstream national media figures.

Martin Luther King Jr. said the moral arc of the universe is long but bends toward justice. Today, probably 70 percent or more of PG readers will applaud Mr. Steigerwald's article. But even given that progress, we have only begun to prove King correct.


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