The Final Call Newspaper Special Coverage: The Triumphs, Trials of Black America in 2009

The year 2009 and the state of Black America in turbulent times

By Charlene Muhammad -Western Reg. Correspondent

(FinalCall.com) - Barack Obama taking charge as the president of the United States was seen as the most significant development for Black America in 2009, according to analysts interviewed by The Final Call, but despite that historical change—serious challenges remain.

Blacks still live in greater poverty (24.7 percent) than non-Hispanic Whites (8.6 percent), Asians (11.8 percent), or Hispanics (23.2 percent), despite recent increases in poverty levels. Black men are incarcerated in U.S. prisons or jails at a rate more than six times higher than White males. In addition, Black unemployment increased from 8.9 percent to 15.6 percent since the recession struck in 2007, while overall, the national unemployment rate rose from 4.9 to 10.0 percent.

“Any assessment of last year must concede that there was both great joy and hope as well as deep disappointment as things settled in, returned to the rule of big business as usual, and people realized that symbolism is not substance and that there is no substitute for self-conscious, committed and continuous struggle,” said Dr. Maulana Karenga, creator of Kwanzaa and professor in the Department of Africana Studies at California State University Long Beach.

While President Obama's election, as well as his winning the Nobel Peace Price, brought a sense of joy in 2009, other events brought just as much sadness and disappointment.

The world mourned the death of music great Michael Jackson, reportedly given a lethal overdose of Propofol and other sedative drugs by his doctor. The housing downturn caused 1.9 million foreclosure filings on U.S. homes in the first half of 2009 and set off a domino effect causing destruction to already lacking Black wealth.

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Victims of sexual abuse by priests share shocking stories
By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor

CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) - As a 13-year-old girl in Chicago, Alicia Sample had her entire life ahead of her. She had dreams of being a childcare provider, and with supportive parents, this goal was within her reach.

Finding the public schools in their neighborhood lacking, like many parents, Alicia's chose to send her and their five other children to a prestigious Catholic school, St. Procopius, located on the lower west side of Chicago.

“My father made it clear to us that we were there for the education,” said Alicia. “Education was very key for my mother and father. They always made it clear that even if you were just a struggling Black person, if you have an education, they can't take that away from you.”

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