Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The solitary sign in the middle of the throngs who gathered at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday raised the salient issue that went largely unmentioned by the speakers at the podium: jobs.

In a photograph that ran across the front page of The Washington Post Thursday morning, a black woman held up a large placard that said "We Still Have a Dream: Jobs, Peace, Freedom."

That sign spoke volumes about that one issue that still plagues the African-American community, whose jobless rates are off the charts. It's especially heart-wrenching that jobs came first on the list, above peace and freedom.

That was the unspoken and unfulfilled agenda at the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington where the Rev. Martin Luther King delivered his moving clarion call for racial justice.

The long line of Democrats, including President Obama, refused to acknowledge their party's biggest failure and its most embarrassing, self-inflicted wound -- the refusal to enact pro-growth, pro-job policies to open new economic opportunities for everyone.

Obama's address dealt for the most part with our country's remaining racial issues, but gave little or no serious attention to the weak economy that has hurt black people more than any other group.

Several days before the 50th anniversary observance, the Pew Research Center put out an economic report card on black advancement that said the black unemployment rate remains as bad as ever.

"Much has changed for African-Americans since the 1963 March on Washington" -- which, it will be recalled, was a march for "Jobs and Freedom" -- "but one thing hasn't: The unemployment rate among blacks is about double that among whites." If anything, it's gotten worse.

A recent report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute says that in 1963 the unemployment rate for whites was 5 percent and 10.9 percent for blacks. Now it is nearly 13 percent for all blacks nationally, and 41.6 percent for young blacks 17 and older.

The poverty rate among blacks remains high and is falling much more slowly than it did in the 1960s. It declined from 55.1 percent to 32.2 percent between 1959 and 1969, but in more recent years has stalled or, in many areas, grown worse. Nearly 30 percent of black households are now below the poverty income line -- three times the rate for whites.

In his address on Wednesday, Obama wasn't willing to face the grim reality that his 1930s-style economic policies were hurting his own people.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.