Where Martin Luther King’s dream stands today

“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:

POPULATION

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

VOTING

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

ELECTED OFFICIALS

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.

INCOME

Median income for a black family.

1963: $22,266 (in 2011 dollars)

2011: $40,495

POVERTY

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.

HOUSING

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.

1964: 234,000

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.

1964: 365,000

2012: 5.1 million

Source: Census Bureau

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