By James Wrights, Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON (Special to the NNPA from the Afro Newspapers) -- Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) has issued a call for President Bush to launch a national commission to study the problems of the African-American male. Davis said that a commission is needed because of concerns that were raised at the recent Status of the African American Male Initiative that was recently held in Washington.
''Based upon statistical data, it is my contention that conditions relating to African-American males are continuing to decline and thereby require intervention,'' the letter said. ''For example, the unemployment rate among African-American males is approximately 31.9
percent, which is triple the national average. African-American males make up six percent of the total population and account for 48
percent of the prison population.
''According to the Census Bureau 30 percent of African-American males under 18 live below the poverty line.''
Marc Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, noted at the initiative event that ''Black men lead every negative aspect of almost any statistics compiled.''
Black men earn less, are deeper in debt, save less, are less educated, and tend to lack employable job skills, he said.
Morial's solution was for the government and the private sector to come together to solve these problems.
In the letter, Davis urged Bush to charge the commission to look at disparities in the health system, criminal justice system, school
dropout rates, economic opportunities and cultural trends.
Davis said, ''It is our hope that the commission will identify causes and recommend both short-term and long-range policy and
programmatic directions for positive change.''
A commission to study the problems of Black men is not new on the state and local level. Washington has a commission to study the
problems of Black men and boys in the city that was set up by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), and is set to issue a report in
2004. Indiana, led by Jose Evans, established a commission several years ago, and has become a model for others to follow.
For example, in Indiana, each major city has a commission of activists and concerned citizens set to monitor the progress of Black men in employment, the criminal justice system and education.
With the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, National Urban League, the Association of Black Psychologists, the
National Organization of Concerned Black Men and the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Davis has organized a group of cities where
discussions will be taking place, at various times, regarding the status of Black men.
The cities are Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Memphis, Miami, Detroit and Atlanta.
After the discussions, the CBC will issue a final report on the problems of Black men and urge the government to take steps.
Davis said that this is the only way to make Black males' lives in America more pleasant.
''We are losing far too many African-American males to drugs, gangs, homicides and an overall sense of helplessness and hopelessness. If
we are to reverse these trends, special efforts must be put forth and we believe that a national look at these issues and problems could provide realistic problem-solving approaches,'' Davis said.
Free your mind, and the rest will follow.