DID “THE GREAT SOCIETY” DESTROY BLACK PROGRESS?

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson made a speech at the University of Michigan in which he introduced his vision for the future.  Called “The Great Society”, one of its key goals was to address and, hopefully, end the social and economic disparities between White and Black citizens.

This, of course heralded the Voting Rights Act and other legislation intended to even our racial playing field.

So how did that work out?

The reason I ask is that a new book, titled “The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again” has just been published, with its authors,  Shaylyn Romney Garrett and 

And how do they justify this conclusion?  Well, in their just-published op-ed for the New York Times, Ms. Garrett and Mr. Putnam lay out some pretty persuasive evidence:

In measure after measure, positive change for Black Americans was actually faster in the decades before the civil rights revolution than in the decades after. For example,

    • The life expectancy gap between Black and white Americans narrowed most rapidly between about 1905 and 1947, after which the rate of improvement was much more modest. And by 1995 the life expectancy ratio was the same as it had been in 1961. There has been some progress in the ensuing two decades, but this is due in part to an increase in premature deaths among working-class whites.

    • The Black/white ratio of high school completion improved dramatically between the 1940s and the early 1970s, after which it slowed, never reaching parity. College completion followed the same trajectory until 1970, then sharply reversed.

    • Racial integration in K-12 education at the national level began much earlier than is often believed. It accelerated sharply in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education. But this trend leveled off in the early 1970s, followed by a modest trend toward resegregation.

    • Income by race converged at the greatest rate between 1940 and 1970. However, as of 2018, Black/white income disparities were almost exactly the same as they were in 1968, 50 years earlier. Even taking into account the emergence of the Black middle class, Black Americans on the whole have experienced flat or downward mobility in recent decades.

    • The racial gap in homeownership steadily narrowed between 1900 and 1970, then stagnated, then reversed. The racial wealth gap is now growing as Black homeownership plummets.

    • Long-run data on national trends in voting by race is patchy, but the South saw a dramatic increase in Black voter registration between 1940 and 1970, followed by decline and stagnation. What data we have on national Black voter turnout indicate that nearly all of the gains toward equality with white voter turnout occurred between 1952 and 1964, before the Voting Rights Act passed, then almost entirely halted for the rest of the century.

These data reveal a too-slow but unmistakable climb toward racial parity throughout most of the century that begins to flatline around 1970 — a picture quite unlike the hockey stick of historical shorthand.

Are Garrett and Putnam claiming that Black people were better off during the shameful, inexcusable decades of segregation and overt anti-Black laws we had?

No they are not – as is made clear further on in their commentary (which I urge you to read in its entirety).

Their point is that the desired results – which, I assume, are supported by every decent person – have not been achieved; they have stagnated or regressed.

Is that because “The Great Society” initiatives were flawed?  Because they were not flawed but, over time, we strayed so far from them that their benefits have been wiped out?  Some other reason?

What do you think?

9 Comments

    • Very informative video’s, I wish at the end he would have added that we shouldn’t go as far as the Chinese. If we have to do the bad things they do in order to compete, I say some things aren’t worth winning.

      • You know they purposely wrote it that way, they thought about it and decided do that, my question is, why?
        If someone were to write that as, ‘White and black Americans’, what would we assume?

        Maybe this belongs in your Racism blog from today. Until we stop emphasizing race, we are never going to break this vicious circle.

  • Check this series out if you want even more info on how the government programs have harmed the black community.

    Walter Williams’ PBS documentary Good Intentions based on his book, The State Against Blacks (1982). The documentary was very controversial at the time it was released and led to many animosities and even threats of murder.

    In Good Intentions, Dr. Williams examines the failure of the war on poverty and the devastating effect of well meaning government policies on blacks asserting that the state harms people in the U.S. more than it helps them. He shows how government anti-poverty programs have often locked people into poverty making the points that:

    – being forced to attend 3rd rate public schools leave students unprepared for working life
    – minimum wages prevent young people from obtaining jobs at an early age
    – licensing and labor laws have had the effect of restricting entrance of blacks into the skilled trades and unions
    – the welfare system creates perverse incentives for the poor to make bad choices they otherwise would not

    Dr. Williams presents the following solutions to these problems:

    Failing Public Schools – Give parents greater control over their children’s education by setting up a tuition tax credit or voucher system to broaden competition in turn revitalizing both public and non-public schools

    Minimum Wages – Remove the minimum wage from youngsters to give more young people the chance to learn the world of work at an early age instead spending their free time idle an possibly falling into the habits of the street

    Restrictive Labor Laws, Jobs Programs – Eliminate government roadblocks that prevent new entrepreneurs from starting their own business

    Welfare Programs – Enact a compassionate welfare system such as a negative income tax which would remove dependency and dis-incentives for the poor to get themselves out of poverty

    Scholars interviewed in the documentary include Donald Eberle, Charles Murray, and George Gilder.

    Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1r-r6
    Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DS0XX
    Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqMuLN

    Playlist:
    http://www.youtube.com/my_playlists?p

  • Glad to see that asshole “Grandmaster Jay” was arrested finally. He’s the leader of the “Not Fucking Around Coalition,” NFAC, that had 350 black men armed with semi automatic rifles and body armor in Louisville on the same day as the Kentucky Derby. They were lined up on one side of the street with about 50 police lined up on the other. Talk about a powder keg. Very scary situation. What in the world is this country coming to?

    • What in the world is this country coming to?

      Exactly what the Left have been planning/working towards for the last 60+ years.

      • Yep. The question is, now that it’s here, what are we going to do about it? All my life I’ve heard people say to “choose your battles” and ask, “is that the hill you want to to die on?” Is this blatant, brazen coup being committed in broad daylight, is this the hill to die on? This is the most important thing that’s happened in my lifetime of 67 years. If this isn’t the hill to die on, what is? And what exactly can I do to help? I’ve donated a boatload of money (by my standards) to worthy causes like the Trump campaign, Judicial Watch, Project Veritas and others but that’s not anything really. I heard that caller on Rush’s show a while ago saying he’d die for our President and I share the feeling, but what can I DO? A great quote from “Catcher in the Rye” goes something like “An immature man wants to die for a cause, a mature man wants to live humbly for one.” It seems living humbly gets you nowhere these days.

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