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Racial equality: Then and Now

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Updated: 8/26/2013 4:03 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- America is preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Aug. 28.

It was the largest civil rights rally of its time and ushered in a new era of change.

But has enough changed and enough progress been made to erase the ills of segregation?

Ben Warner, president of Jacksonville Community Council Inc., said one of the biggest quality-of-life issues continues to be racial disparities.

While the bold new city of the south is making progress, most people agree it's not enough.

Warner says, "In many ways its very different but in some areas when we look at comparisons -- the gaps between black and white outcomes around specific issues the gaps are the same as they were 50 years ago."

Unemployment, household income, incarceration rates. Warner says these continue to be largely African American issues in our city.

When it comes to violence, it seems our past is our present.

A study from 1947 appears on the JCCI website. In it, this statement appears: "There is a public conviction in our community of the urgent necessity for reducing the lawless conditions that prevail among both races in our city and county." We asked Warner if Jacksonville's past was really its present. He says, "Yes, there's a lot in that 1947 study that just rings true. We have many of the same issues today as we did then,"

Today, there is a renewed urgency in finding balance and equality.

Warner points to strides in education and health care, but as budgets slim down, so to do the programs that have sparked success in the black community. He says, "It starts with finding the right investments that are making progress and support and invest in those initiatives. Our community needs it. We've made too much progress to take a step back."


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