“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream … I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” — Martin Luther King Jr., Aug. 28, 1963
It’s one of the most important speeches in American history. Fifty years ago this week, Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It was a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement, before the landmark legislation securing voting, housing and employment rights for all Americans regardless of race. To mark the anniversary, the Census Bureau released statistics about how lives have changed for blacks in America. Below is a snapshot:
1963: 20,255,067 or 10.7 percent of the total U.S. population
2012: 44,456,009 or 14.2 percent of the total U.S. population
The percent of the total black population 18 years and older who voted in the presidential election.
1964: 58.5 percent
2012: 62 percent
The percent of the total U.S. population 18 and older that voted in the presidential election.
1964: 69.3 percent
2012: 56.5 percent
1,469: The number of black elected officials in 1970, the first year this kind of information was collected.
10,500: Estimated number of black elected officials in 2011.
Median income for a black family.
1963: $22,266 (in 2011 dollars)
1966: 41.8 percent. Poverty rate for blacks — 1966 is the closest year these statistics are available to the historic speech. Nationally, the poverty rate for all races was 14.7 percent.
2011: 27.6 percent Poverty rate for single-race blacks. Nationally, the poverty rate for all races was 15 percent.
Homeownership rate for blacks — 1970 is the earliest this information is available for race.
1970: 41.6 percent
2011: 43.4 percent
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES
Percentage of blacks age 25 and older who completed at least four years of high school.
1966: 25.7 percent or 2.4 million
2012: 85 percent or 20.3 million
COLLEGE STUDENTS AND GRADUATES
Number of black undergraduate college students.
2012: 2.6 million
Percent of blacks age 25 and older who completed at least four years of college.
1964: 3.9 percent
2012: 21.2 percent
Number of blacks who had at least a bachelor’s degree.
2012: 5.1 million
Source: Census Bureau