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For the last several years there has been an endless stream of negative reporting about the growing and persistent problems of the terrible rate of high school dropout rates for Black American students across the United States. Of course, it is always important to focus on the most critical problems that beset the quality of life of the African American community. Certainly, there is no greater challenge than encouraging our young sisters and brothers to stay in school to complete their high school education, and to prepare for their life careers by going on to finish college and graduate school or to enroll in some type of hands-on career training or to start their own businesses that may require special entrepreneurial internship and mentorship.

Recently, there was a related article in the ‘Economist’ magazine that typically described the problem of the direct causative relationship between the high rate of Black unemployment and the high rate of Black high school dropouts. Among African Americans, 70 percent of those who have dropped out of high school are also devastatingly unemployed. But, the article in the Economist offered no solutions. It painted, what may appear to most of its readers, a hopeless situation for Black high school dropouts.

During my 50 years or more in the Civil Rights Movement, we were always confronted with sometimes life-threatening problems and challenges. But, we never let fear or hopelessness determine our strategies for progress and success in the very face all those forces of oppression and repression. We kept our faith in God and in our own abilities to participate in the development and implementation of “movement for change” organizing, mobilizing, and in the institutional- building process so necessary to move our race and community forward. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) along with countless Black churches and other grassroots organizations, including organized labor, helped to build and sustain a movement that irreversibly changed America for the better.

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