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Urban League Counts on Clinton

IN its 18th annual report on the state of African-Americans and other minorities in the United States, issued Jan. 26, the National Urban League signaled that it expects major progress from the administration of President Clinton.

The League's president, John Jacob, couldn't have made it more clear in presenting 11 separate reports on subjects from "Developing Black Children for the 21st Century" to "Coordinated Community Empowerment: Experiences of the Urban League of Greater Miami."

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Of Mr. Clinton's potential influence on the betterment of blacks and other minorities, Mr. Jacob said: "Many people found a hopeful answer to change in America in the election of a presidential candidate who appeared to have mastered the ability to unite Americans of vastly different ideologies, races, and ethnic and economic backgrounds." He added that "black America is apprehensive.... We have seen high hopes trampled into the dust before." But Jacob noted that, ultimately the African-American communit y "must develop our own vision of the future, and implement that vision."

This note of realism wisely tempers elation at the prospect of having a president who is pledged more than lip service in respect to minority needs, the urgency of which can be read in figures that show unemployment at more than 14 percent. The Urban League reports emphasize the necessity for Americans to realize their country's growing racial and ethnic diversity and come to terms with it.

Jobs, education, housing, health care, and other basic needs must be made accessible to all. These needs are obvious. But without greater understanding and tolerance of each others' rights and values - of our shared, essential humanity - we cannot make much progress toward the wish that Rodney King expressed when he pleaded, "Can't we all just get along?" No president, however enlightened, can hope to cope with America's urgent needs without at least the good will of even those who disagree with his poli cies.

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