Advocates address rising poverty among black children
Krissah Thompson, Washington Post (via Boston Globe) | January 23, 2011

WASHINGTON — Two decades ago, 22 black leaders gathered for a retreat on farmland in rural Tennessee once owned by writer Alex Haley. The reason for the gathering, which included historian John Hope Franklin and civil rights matriarch Dorothy Height, was to address growing rates of poverty among black children.

The idea for the Harlem Children’s Zone was born there. So was the Freedom School initiative, which has provided summer and after-school enrichment programs for 80,000 children.

But a larger issue has overshadowed those successes: Rates of black childhood poverty keep growing.

“We have to again come together to stop the backward slide of our children,’’ said Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and organizer of the 1990 retreat. “We need to revive a policy voice for children. The cradle-to-prison pipeline — breaking it up — is going to be the overall framework from which we move forward.’’

According to the 2010 Census, black children are three times as likely to be poor as white children. Forty percent of black children are born to poor families, compared with 8 percent of white children. And a black boy born in the past decade has a 1-in-3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime.  (Read more)