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Report: Black Women in U.S. Making Progress, But More Action Needed

Trice Edney Communications | 3/28/2014, 2:52 p.m.
A report released Friday found that black women in the United States have made significant progress since key historical markers, ...

A report released Friday by Black Women's Roundtable Public Policy Network (BWR), Black Women in the U.S., 2014, found that significant progress has been made since key historical markers however, there are many areas that remain in need of dire national attention and urgent action. The report was released during a legislative briefing at the historic headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). The event kicks off the BWR National Summit taking place over the next three days.

"This report is a quick glimpse at where we are. We use this document as a roadmap during our BWR summit," says Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO National Coalition and convener, BWR. "Black women are a powerful force and we plan to demonstrate that power by working collaboratively and intentionally across issues to usher in a new set of progressive polices and leaders to champion our cause. In the coming days, we will unveil specific details about the implementation of the Power of the Sister Vote!"

"We look at the tragedies and the triumphs surrounding Black Women's lives across a variety of different indicators and areas of inquiry," Adds Avis Jones-DeWeever, PhD, Incite Unlimited and editor of the report. "Black women have made progress since key historical markers such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Brown v. Board of Education, and the onset of the War on Poverty, but many areas remain that need urgent action."

The following are some of the key findings from Black Women in the U.S., 2014:

Black Women's Health Still in Need of Dire Attention

  • For Black women, having a baby can be deadly. The maternal mortality rate for Black women is fully three times that of white women and is on par with several developing nations.

Sixty Years Post-Brown, Education Still Separate, Still Unequal, Yet Black Women Still Excel

  • While much recent attention has been focused on the degree to which Black boys are impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline. Black girls experience an out-of school suspension rate fully 6 times that of white girls.

In spite of these challenges, over the past five decades, the high school graduation rates of Black women have jumped 63%, virtually eliminating the gap with Asian women (down to 2%), and significantly narrowing the gap with white women (7%).

Black Women Work, but Lag Behind in Pay

  • As they have from the beginning of their experience in America, Black women lead all women in labor force participation rates. Even as mothers of small children, Black women are overwhelmingly likely to work.
  • Yet, despite their strong work ethic, Black women remain behind economically largely due to a doubly disadvantaged wage gap and over-representation in low-wage fields.

No Golden Years for Black Women

  • Largely due to years of pay disadvantages, decreased access to employer-sponsored pension plans, and a stunning lack of overall wealth accumulation, Black women over 65 have the lowest household income of any demographic group in America.
  • Still, Black women are especially reliant on Social Security in their retirement years. In fact, if it were not for social security, the poverty rate for Black women would more than double.