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Blacks Found Putting Focus on Self-Help

January 21, 1994|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — More black Americans are beginning to step forward in the fight against poverty, crime and unemployment among their own people, the National Urban League reported Thursday.

In its annual report, "The State of Black America," the league asked President Clinton to create an "environment of opportunity," featuring business development, jobs and anti-discrimination laws, to push the self-help effort along.

But "we also know that we cannot afford to wait for that environment to be created," the league's president, John E. Jacob, said. "Our challenge is to continue the mobilization of the African American community around the concept of self-development to produce healthy, smart, productive, 21st-Century citizens."

The National Urban League is one of the nation's oldest social service and civil rights organizations. It focuses on creating social, educational and economic opportunities for blacks.

Its report echoes a growing cry among blacks to rely on themselves, and not government, to end an atmosphere of hopelessness and lawlessness that has gripped many communities in the past decade.

Among self-help efforts noted in the last year:

* Gun buy-back programs, offering cash, goods or services to those who turn in weapons.

* Meetings among street gang leaders to negotiate a national truce.

* A campaign by professional athletes to promote sexual abstinence among teen-agers.

* A growing number of anti-drug patrols by residents of crime-plagued neighborhoods.

* Mentoring programs launched by churches or black professional groups.

The league cited a potpourri of indicators that showed black Americans made slight gains financially during the 1980s, only to have those gains clipped by losses in other areas.

Black unemployment remained high in 1992, at 12.4%, although it was down from 19.5% in 1983, the report said.

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