June 15, 2004


The Real Reagan Revolution (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Jun 15, 2004, AlterNet)

Civil rights, civil liberties, women's groups and liberal Democrats regard the Reagan years as the most disastrous in modern times for civil rights and social programs.

The good that Reagan did for black America (Joseph Perkins, June 11, 2004, San Diego Union-Tribune)
[T]he 1980s, with a conservative, free-market Republican in the White House, were a boom time for black America.

Indeed, Andrew Brimmer, the Harvard-trained black economist, the former Federal Reserve Board member, estimated that total black business receipts increased from $12.4 billion in 1982 to $18.1 billion in 1987, translating into an annual average growth rate of 7.9 percent (compared to 5 percent for all U.S. businesses.

The success of the black entrepreneurial class during the Reagan era was rivaled only by the gains of the black middle class.

In fact, black social scientist Bart Landry estimated that that upwardly mobile cohort grew by a third under Reagan's watch, from 3.6 million in 1980 to 4.8 million in 1988. His definition was based on employment in white-collar jobs as well as on income levels.

All told, the middle class constituted more than 40 percent of black households by the end of Reagan's presidency, which was larger than the size of black working class, or the black poor.

The impressive growth of the black middle class during the 1980s was attributable in no small part to the explosive growth of jobs under Reagan, which benefited blacks disproportionately.

Indeed, between 1982 and 1988, total black employment increased by 2 million, a staggering sum. That meant that blacks gained 15 percent of the new jobs created during that span, while accounting for only 11 percent of the working-age population.

Meanwhile, the black jobless rate was cut by almost half between 1982 and 1988. Over the same span, the black employment rate – the percentage of working-age persons holding jobs – increased to record levels, from 49 percent to 56 percent.

The black executive ranks especially prospered under Reagan. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that the number of black managers and officers in corporations with 100 or more employees increased by 30 percent between 1980 and 1985.

During the same period, the number of black professionals increased by an astounding 63 percent.

The burgeoning of the black professional, managerial and executive ranks during the 1980s coincided with a steady growth of the black student population at the nation's colleges and universities in the 1980s.

Even though the number of college-aged blacks decreased during much of the decade, black college enrollment increased by 100,000 between 1980 and 1987, according to the Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, the 1980s saw an improvement in the black high school graduation rate, as the proportion of blacks 18 to 24 years old earning high school diplomas increased from 69.7 percent in 1980 to 76 percent by 1987.

On balance, then, the majority of black Americans made considerable progress in the 1980s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2004 11:44 PM

When are blacks going to realize that they have been used by the Democrats and that the Republicans are their ticket to prosperity?

Posted by: jd watson at June 16, 2004 4:58 AM

I think African-Americans are fully capable of seeing where their interest lie, given their history and talents. It would seem to me they are doing just fine in the Democratic Party, since almost all spending propositions presented to Congress are accessed on the basis of "how it will effect Black Americans" Pretty slick, considering they represent only 12-13 percent of the population.

They, at minimum, have a veto power over the governing of most of the major cities in America. (Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, maybe New York) Take Houston, Tx. as an example where they have more leverage than Mexicans, who may actually outnumber them. I would suggest the same thing in Los Angeles.

They get quite a bit more power by concentrating their efforts with just one Party rather than "watering down" their influence by splitting their votes between the two parties.

I think I'll pass on being anyone's "ticket" to properity.

Posted by: h-man at June 16, 2004 7:21 AM

But even in Atlanta, has black governance really helped the underclass? No. There is a flourishing black middle class, but the people whom these leaders claim to defend and serve are in the same boat (pretty much). For example, Andrew Young did nothing to help the black community in Atlanta while he was mayor - he just wanted to flit around Washington. Plus, the suave Bill Campbell (previous mayor) is still under investigation for corruption, which dates back to the Olympics. Philadelphia is similar.

On the other hand, black leadership structures seemed to have made a difference in Cleveland.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 16, 2004 8:19 AM