Not many folks remember that the 1963 “March on Washington” was officially named “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” This fact often gets lost amid the important celebration of the general achievement and highlights such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” oration. Indeed, the theme of job creation runs though Dr. King’s writings. Perhaps no single policy could have as great a social and economic impact on the African American community—and the entire country—as federally funded job assurance for every person ready and willing to work. This is a policy approach that was explicitly supported by Dr. King, and that is currently receiving attention in economic and policy circles.
In an article in Look published just after his assassination (King, 1968), Dr. King wrote that: “We call our demonstration a campaign for jobs and income because we feel that the economic question is the most crucial that black people, and poor people generally, are confronting.” Thirty-three years later, at the peak of a peacetime economic expansion heralded as the longest and strongest in recent history, not only is the African American unemployment rate stuck at twice that of whites, but at around 8% that figure remains at a rate that would be considered evidence of a deep recession were it to hold for society as a whole:There is a literal depression in the Negro community. When you have mass unemployment in the Negro community, it’s called a social problem; when you have mass unemployment in the white community, it’s called a depression. The fact is, there is a major depression in the Negro community. The unemployment rate is extremely high, and among Negro youth, it goes up as high as forty percent in some cities. (Kin…
…ew, 15, April.
Other Works Cited
Darity, Jr., William A. Darity and Samuel L. Myers, Jr. (with Emmett D. Carson and William Sabol), 1994, The Black Underclass: Critical Essays on Race and Unwantedness, New York: Garland.
Darity, Jr., William A. and Derrick Hamilton, 2001, “A Test of the Functionality of Discrimination,” presented at Allied Social Science Annual Meetings, New Orleans, January.
Other Work on Public Service Job Assurance
Carlson, Ellen, and William F. Mitchell, 2000, The Path to Full Employment and Equity, ELRR: Economic and Labour Relations Review,Supplement to Volume 11.
Warner, Aaron, Mathew Forstater, and Sumner Rosen, 2000, Commitment to Full Employment, Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe.
Wray, L. Randall, 1998, Understanding Modern Money: The Key To Full Employment and Price Stability, Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar.