By Dr. Alex Mikulich, Research Fellow
Since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968, the income gap between blacks and whites has narrowed by just three cents on the dollar. In 2005, the median per-capita income for blacks stood at $16,629 and $28,946 for whites. In Mississippi, whites’ average personal earnings are more than $10,000 more than African Americans’. 1 Many scholars note that at this rate of progress, income equality will not be achieved for 537 years.
The gap in wealth is perhaps more significant because wealthier families are able to afford the best education, access capital to start or expand a business, finance health coverage and expensive medical procedures, reside in safer neighborhoods, procure better legal representation, transfer wealth to subsequent generations, and withstand financial hardship resulting from economic downturns or emergencies. Perhaps the most consequential indicator of racial inequality, the wealth gap exposes the myth that we live in a “post-racial” society. 2