Yesterday I wrote an op-ed in the Charleston Chronicle calling for bold investment in racial equity, as ambitious as the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. We’ll call it the Douglass Plan for Black America, in honor of Frederick Douglass, who called America to better live up to its promise.
Next week, our nation will celebrate Juneteenth, which marks the day when enslaved Black people in Texas learned – almost two years after the fact – that the Emancipation Proclamation had granted them freedom. It is a fundamentally American occasion: a celebration of freedom, but also an acknowledgement of freedom delayed.
Black Americans are not yet fully free when Black unemployment is almost twice the national average, when the average Black eighth grader reads at a level far below their white peers, and when Black mothers are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.
We lack true freedom when so many schools are almost as segregated as they were before Brown v. Board of Education, and when identical resumes with stereotypically white or Black names lead to wildly different chances of being hired.
This is just the beginning. I’ll have much more to say about the Douglass Plan in the coming weeks, but for now I invite you to read my op-ed and share it with your friends, family, and community.
As Frederick Douglass once noted, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” So let’s work together to implement these ideas and bring greater freedom, security, and democracy to the communities that need it most. Doing so will enrich not just Black America, but all Americans.
Pete for America
PO Box 1226
South Bend, IN 46624