Against All Odds - Full Film

Acclaimed journalist Bob Herbert explores the often heroic efforts of black families
to pursue the American dream in the face of unrelenting barriers. AGAINST ALL ODDS: The Fight for a Black Middle Class premieres Monday, March 6 at 10PM on THIRTEEN.


[ Indistinct shouting ]

>> The nigger is not a part of

my family.

As a result, I don't elect to

have him sit and eat with me.

As a result, I don't elect to

have him belong to a club that

I may belong to.

>> There's a whole nother life

if you're black.

There's a whole layer that

people don't see, or don't

appreciate, in terms of what you

have to do to just make it

through every day.

[ Indistinct shouting ]

>> This whole history of white

rioting and white violence --

historically buried.

People think of violence and

riots in the street, they always

think of the 1960s, when black

people rioted.

But whenwhite people rioted, it

doesn't even have a name.

>> There's still large segments

of the country that are not

going to first evaluate what I

do, but they're just gonna make

snap judgments because my skin

is not white.

>> I'm Bob Herbert.

For nearly half a century, I've

covered some of the biggest

stories and most important

issues to face the American

people as a reporter and a

columnist at theDaily News in

New York, at NBC News, and at

The New York Times.

This is a story about race,

about persistent, depraved,

often murderous racial prejudice

and discrimination, and

especially how that racism has

affected the black middle class.

The United States views a strong

middle class not just as an

ideal, but as its proudest


But theblack middle class is

not and never has been the same

as thewhite middle class.

Whites talk about working hard

and playing by the rules, but

blacks have always had to play

by a different hateful set of

hideously unfair rules.

Working hard has never been

enough for black Americans to


Nearly 40% of all black children

in America are poor.

The black unemployment rate is

twice that of whites.

And the black middle class is

far more fragile and has much

less wealth than the white

middle class.

In fact, blacks are not even in

the sameleague with whites when

it comes to wealth.

For every dollar of wealth in

the hands of the average white

family in America, the typical

black family has just a little

more than a nickel.

Why these terrible disparities

are still the case a century and

a half after slavery and a

half-century after the heyday of

the civil rights movement is

what I'll try to explain in this


[ Mid-tempo music plays ]

It's not easy to get a handle on

black America.

There are an awful lot of

African-Americans doing awfully


>> This is for you, Billy.

>> Cultural heroes are


Black stars are dominant in the

sports world.

And there are fabulously

successful African-Americans in

media and the fine arts.

>> The door tonight has been


>> And, of course, Barack Obama

was elected to two terms as


But at the same time, black

America has been wracked by

terrible poverty...

>> Our boys won't be silenced no


>> ...too much tragic violence,

and disastrous relations with

law enforcement at every level.

>> [ Chanting ] I can't breathe!

>> Oh, my God.

Please don't tell me he's dead.

>> Where does the middle class

fit in to this picture?

>> I think the perception of

blacks in general is either what

you see on TV -- you have both

ends of the spectrum.

You see folks who are very poor,

crime-ridden neighborhoods, or

you see the blacks that are

uber-wealthy, like you see on


There's nobody in the middle

who's -- they have a nice home,

they make a decent living, but

they're not uber-rich.

And I think the perception is

that there is no middle for us.

I think the ones in the middle

just kind of get...dismissed or

not even thought about.

>> But you're real.

>> We're here. We're real.

>> The black middle class is

real, all right, but it's


It's not the same as the white

middle class.

>> White families have about

$113,000 in financial assets or

wealth, and that average

African-American family has


And that's a pretty devastating


>> 80% of African-Americans have

a net worth below the median net

worth of white Americans.

>> 80%.

>> 80%.

Meaning that, fundamentally, the

notion of economic stability

that middle class connotes is

something that African-Americans

are still striving towards.

About a third of

African-Americans have no


>> Zero.

>> Zero.

>> The disturbing truth is that

America's black middle class has

never been as large or as robust

as most people -- including most

black people -- have wanted to


To get a real understanding of

why this is the case, we have to

take a look back.

[ Eerie piano music plays ]

In the early part of the 20th

century, 90% of

African-Americans lived in the


To say that they were oppressed,

treated cruelly, is an


They were treated as if they

were subhuman.

Elijah Cummings is a U.S.

Congressman from Maryland.

He's also the son and grandson

of Southern sharecroppers.

Cummings and his wife,

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, are

exploring his family's origins

in South Carolina.

>> Meaning he had to have born

in --

>> In slavery, right. Isaac.

>> Isaiah was born in 1885,

right after --

>> Isaiah Cummings was my

grandfather, and he fell sick on

a Sunday.

And they brought him home and,

some kind of way, they got two

doctors to come out and -- two

white doctors, an old one and a

younger one.

And so the younger doctor said,

"You know, we need to really get

this man to a hospital, or else

he's gonna die."

And the older white doctor said,

"Don't worry about him.

He's only a nigger."

>> What?

>> And that night, my

grandfather died.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And my father, to his death,

I think, was very upset about


>> Slavery ended, but things

didn't change.

People still lived on land that

was owned by others.

They still worked for profits

that went to others.

Working conditions were harsh.

Children weren't getting


There was a lot of illness,

early death.

And people didn't see a way out.

Sharecropping was nothing but

slavery under a different name,

and that was the status of a lot

of black people.

>> The majority of the people

who were doing sharecropping

never cleared anything at the

end of the year, so that this

was something that kept people

in debt to the landowner and in

debt to the planter, which meant

that, for all intents and

purposes, they were not much

better off than their enslaved

ancestors had been.

[ Soft piano music plays ]

My grandmother's house was

basically a wood cabin, and,

literally, you could look

through the floor and see the


My father would work from sunup

to sundown, plowing fields,

picking cotton, strawberries,


He was truly a sharecropping

farmer and, back then, got very,

very little per day.

>> Sharecroppers often worked

year after year forno money.

They were cheated by landowners

and had virtually no legal


>> They would take the kids out

of school at an early age to

work the fields.

>> Yeah.

>> To work the fields.

You wouldn't -- We were talking

about, when we ride up here,

ride through all this land,

somebody had to plow this land.

>> And they shut down the

schools during harvest time so

that the kids could come out and

help with the harvest.

>> It's hard to imagine the

growth of a healthy black middle

class from this wretched soil.

>> There are many examples of

Southern governors and lawmakers

who would say, "Well, what would

be the point of investing in

education for these people when

all we need them to be is a cook

or domestic or to work in the


How much education could they


>> James K. Vardaman was

explicit on that point.

Governor of Mississippi, and

then U.S. Senator in the early

1900s, he had sworn to lynch

every black person in the state,

if necessary, to maintain white


"The only effect of Negro

education," Vardaman said, "was

to spoil a good field hand and

make an insolent cook."

[ Heartbeat ]

>> It was a regime of

totalitarianism, in some ways.

>> Whatever you had could be

taken away the moment some white

woman accused a black man of

looking at her the wrong way, a

white family thought that a

black family was doing too well,

getting uppity.

People tried to exercise a few

rights, suggest that they had

them -- any of those things

could get you lynched.

[ Heartbeat ]

>> It was against the law for a

black person and a white person

to just play checkers together

in Birmingham.

Everything you could imagine was


There were separate elevators.

There were separate staircases.

There were separate taxicabs.

And so that meant that, at every

turn, at every moment, every

single thing that you did, you

had to be keenly aware and

observant and vigilant as to

where you happened to be and

making sure that you were not

crossing a line.

Any breach of that caste system

could mean injury, attack, and

even death.

>> The Ku Klux Klan...

>> And, always, there was the


>> They terrorized Negroes and

their sympathizers with

violence, arson, and murder.

[ Heartbeat ]

>> They took them and put them

in jail, and they beat them.

And then they got together on a

Saturday, and they tied them

with barbed wire, hands and

feet, and put barber wire around

their neck and put the father on

one side of the bumper and the

son on the other side of the

bumper, and they drug them all

over the town.

And after they were drug through

the neighborhood, the Negro

neighborhood, they were told

that, "This is the way that

we're gonna keep the nigger in

his place."

[ Minor key piano plays ]

>> A black schoolteacher in

Florida named Harry T. Moore

tried to fight back against the

systematic terror.

In January 1944, he learned

about a black teenage boy who'd

had the temerity to send a

Christmas card to a white girl.

After she showed the card to her

father, he and a group of his

angry friends gathered.

They seized the boy and forced

his father to watch as they

hog-tied and tortured him, then

drowned him in a river.

Moore, founder of the local

NAACP, and his wife, Harriette,

spent their adult lives battling

such outrages.

They fought against mob violence

and for equal pay for black


At great personal peril, they

tried to get black people

registered to vote.

Both were fired from their

teaching jobs and blacklisted.

They were not safe anywhere,

least of all in their own home

in rural Mims, Florida.

On Christmas night, 1951, the

Moores' 25th wedding

anniversary, a bomb exploded

under their bedroom as they


They were taken to a hospital 35

miles away.

By the time the only available

black doctor could be located,

Harry T. Moore had died.

Harriette said she had no desire

to live without her husband.

Eight days later, she also died.

[ Jazzy piano music plays ]

Even in that violent, hateful,

repressive environment, some

faint stirrings of a black

middle class could be felt.

>> You had African-American

professionals and

businesspeople, funeral parlors,

and undertakers.

They served the African-American


Their jobs and livelihood did

not depend on working for a

white company, a white family,

or a white institution.

>> Morial's mother, Sybil, a

teacher and community leader in

New Orleans, grew up in that


>> We had a very comfortable

life in this bubble where we

were protected because we were

among our own, independent on

our own, and there was a lot of


I guess we mimicked the white


[ New Orleans jazz music plays ]

My mother entertained with

organizations like the Links and

the Boule.

But you were inside this secure


And you stepped beyond, and it

was another world.

You knew your limitations.

When a white person was walking

on the sidewalk and a black

would be walking toward them,

they had to step down off the

curb to let the white person


You knew what not to do.

You knew not to step beyond the

Louisiana laws.

>> But blacks who improved their

lot were always at risk.

A small enclave of prosperous

black entrepreneurs in Tulsa,

Oklahoma, became known as the

"Negro Wall Street."

They had their own shops, banks,

newspapers, restaurants, and

theaters -- the makings of a

self-sustaining middle class.

[ Indistinct shouting ]

But in May 1921, riots broke out

when blacks tried to stop an

angry white mob from lynching a

young black man.

[ Explosions ]

Black homes and businesses were

attacked with firebombs and

gunfire, and the National Guard

was called out.

The violence lasted 16 hours.

[ Slow jazz music plays ]

When it was over, the

Negro Wall Street was wiped out.

[ Music continues ]

>> The depravation, the horrors,

and the humiliation would

eventually prove unbearable.

>> They tried the South, they

tried to stay in the South, and,

after a while, they were just


Lynchings were still happening.

Jim Crow was still very much


"Separate but equal" was a joke.

And a lot of people just said,

"Let's just go North."

[ Jazz drum solo plays ]

>> They came out of the South by

the millions, in search of a

better life for themselves and

their children.

They carried very little besides

the clothes on their back, a

package with just enough food

for their journey, and a dream.

Unnoticed by most journalists,

unacknowledged by early

historians, their journey came

to be known as the

"Great Migration."

[ Mid-tempo jazz music plays ]

>> The Great Migration was an

outpouring of 6 million

African-Americans from the South

to the North, the Midwest, and


It was a search for freedom, a

search for the ability to pursue

their dreams for both themselves

and for their children.

>> Their main objective was paid


>> In the first part of the last

century, the labor force,

certainly of white males, was

being siphoned off into the war


>> Well, they actually were


The Northern businesses, the

Northern industries, railroads,

and the factories and the steel

mills of the North needed labor,

and they went to the South to

find them because they were

looking for the cheapest labor

in the land, which would've

meant African-Americans.

When the recruiters came, they

actually had to take great care

in doing so because it turned

out that there was great

resistance in the South to this


>> Resistance among whites?

>> Yes.

>> [ Laughs ]

Whites in the South did not want

blacks to leave?

>> They did not want thelabor

to leave.

>> We have a good set of Negroes

here, and they don't want to be


Of course, there are some

getting some...ideas, and that's

all right.

That's progress.

But we've got some mighty good

darkies here.

[ Train whistle blowing,

up-tempo swing music plays ]

>> The Great Migration was the

largest internal migration in

America's history.

>> There are a lot of legendary

railroad lines that we associate

with the Great Migration now.

The Illinois Central,

City of New Orleans, is one of

the most legendary railroad


[ Music continues ]

There were three streams that

the people used to escape.

One was up the East Coast, which

carried people from Florida,

Georgia, the Carolinas, and

Virginia to Washington, D.C.,

and Philadelphia and New York,

up the East Coast of our


And then there was the Midwest

stream from Mississippi,

Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas

to Chicago and Detroit,

Cleveland, Minneapolis.

And then there was a West Coast

stream, which carried people

from Texas and Louisiana out to

California and then all the way

up to Washington State and even


[ Mid-tempo jazz piano plays ]

Some people drove, drove all the

way out, particularly when they

went out to the West Coast.

It could be perilous because

Jim Crow extended beyond the

borders of the South, in many

cases, where, if they were

driving, they had to be very


There were lots of places where

they could not necessarily be

assured of getting gas, could

not be assured of getting a room

for the night, could not be

assured of being able to get

food or to be able to eat in a


So there were lots of obstacles

and barriers that they had to


>> People didn't know that they

were trading a challenging

situation, a difficult

situation, a harsh situation in

the South, indeed, for a new

form of discrimination and

exclusion, indeed, in the North.

[ Mid-tempo jazz music plays ]

>> For one thing, the promise of

good jobs was vastly overstated.

Some blacks found lower-echelon

work in the factories of

industrial cities, but, for

most, the only option was menial

labor, sometimes of the most

humiliating variety.

>> All right, Jeeves.

Now, let's get going, son.

>> This humiliation, accepted as

normal by most whites, was often

captured in the popular

entertainment of the time.

>> Good gracious, mister!

Aah! Mr. Chan!

>> Any more sandwiches?

>> Oh, sure. I got lots of 'em.

>> Good night, Ed.

>> Good night, Mr. Wynn.

>> Black people really weren't

allowed to get really good jobs.

Domestic work, overwhelmingly,

is what black women did.

>> My mother, she worked in a

pickle factory, if I recall

correctly, and then she did a

lot of domestic work.

Dad was a laborer -- lifting

drums, breathing chemicals all


>> Men participated in all sorts

of -- whether it was cutting

grass, gardening, cooks,

drivers, janitorial workers.

The jobs that were at the very

bottom of the economy

substantially were held by


A good job was being a Pullman

car porter.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ]

>> Blacks considered Pullman

porter to be a middle-class job.

>> The thing that made it middle

class was that they were being

paid relatively well,

particularly compared to other


And they had a uniform, and they

were moving about with important

and respected people.

So it was a revered occupation

to have, and yet it's an

indication that still,

essentially, these were people

who were servants.

[ Music continues ]

>> For a lot of blacks, the only

route to a decent job was


My family was a family of


They were upholsterers.

My mother was a seamstress.

My father was an upholsterer, my

grandfather was an upholsterer.

I cannot believe that my

grandfather's old upholstery

shop is now this boutique


It used to say,

"R.S. Herbert Upholstering,

established 1927."

This store right here, I came in

and out of that door a million

times when I was like -- I don't

know -- seven, eight, nine years

old, right on up through high


I used to work here after


This place was really important

to my family because my

grandfather owned the shop

during the Depression.

And he had five kids, and it

kept his family from being


In those days, in Montclair, if

you were black, there was not

much in the form of gainful

employment to be had.

But if you had a business, that

was different.

And my grandfather had a


[ Minor key piano plays ]

Largely shut out of private

employment, the real route to

the middle class for

overwhelming numbers of blacks

was government employment -- as

teachers in black neighborhoods,

for example, or lower-level

municipal workers, or in the

post office.

>> The post office not only

offered a good career in and of

itself, but you could get a

part-time job at the post


You could teach during the day,

and you could sort mail at


You could put together a pretty

decent living.

>> My grandfather got a good

government job.

He was the driver of the trash

truck in Norwalk, Connecticut,

which I guess was supposed to be

somewhat prestigious that you

were the driver, not actually

picking up the trash.

They were able to buy a home in


They always said that they had a

great life.

Like, in my dad's mind, they

didn't consider themselves poor.

By some people's standards, they

might have, but they didn't

consider themselves poor.

>> In that era, which lasted

through much of the 20th

century, it didn't matter -- if

you were black -- how smart you

were or how hard you worked.

Blacks were seen as a servant

class, and that's the way they

were treated.

Even highly accomplished black

professionals had a hard time

making it into the middle class.

Black doctors were shunned by

white patients and were not

allowed to practice in white

hospitals or join white medical


Sybil Morial's father was a


>> My father grew up on a farm.

He went to Straight College,

which is now Dillard University,

but there was no medical school


So he went to Howard University,

and he interned at

Freedmen's Hospital.

He came home and opened a

practice, but what's interesting

is that they could not take

their patients or even set foot

in the white hospitals.

>> I'll never forget, you know,

I went to my sixth-grade


He said, "What do you want to


I said, "I want to be a lawyer."

And he said, "You can never be a


He said, "Your father is a


He didn't go very far in school.

Your mama didn't either."

He said, "There's no way."

He said, "I think you need to

aim a little lower."

And then he said these words

that have lived with me in

every -- for every day of my


He asked me the question, "Who

do you think you are?"

>> So this counselor was

essentially slamming the door on

the dream of a sixth grader...

>> That's right.

>> ...instead of opening the


>> So I found, my whole life,

almost everything I did was

trying to prove him wrong.

[ Minor key piano plays ]

>> Z. Scott is a former federal

prosecutor who grew up in deeply

segregated Shreveport,

Louisiana, and now lives in


When she graduated from law

school, a career in corporate

law was virtually out of the


>> The opportunities were


At the time, most lawyers of

color were in government because

there were no opportunities in

private practice.

>> So you basically couldn't get

a job.

>> The stories you hear of --

You know, I went into a law firm

for an interview.

When I walked through the door,

you know, the person

interviewing me looked at me,

didn't want to take my coat.

When I sat down, they spent the

rest of the interview telling me

how horrible it was to work


And then I got my coat, and I


That wasn't the only time I had

that sort of experience where

you, couple of interviews in,

you know this is not a welcome


>> So it was pretty much a

government job or bust.

>> That was pretty much it.

[ Mid-tempo jazz music plays ]

>> The quest for a black middle

class, severely hampered by the

lack of decent employment, was

made all the more horrendous by

the vicious and often violent

refusal of whites to allow

blacks into decent housing.

It was a crisis faced

immediately by blacks who were

part of the Great Migration.

>> Chicago, for example, the

neighborhoods that

African-Americans had moved in

to had previously lived in by

waves of Lithuanians or Italians

or Greek immigrants.

So that housing stock had been

old to begin with and not

necessarily maintained very

well, 'cause these had been


And then, when African-Americans

arrived, they arrived in such

large numbers that the owners

ended up subdividing those homes

to make what they would call

"kitchenette apartments," where

there would be sometimes

multiple families living in a

two- or three-room apartment,

sharing a kitchenette.

They were actually paying more

per square foot than almost

anyone else in the city, not

because of the high quality of

the housing, but because the

demand was so great that the

landlords could charge them more

for less.

And then, on top of that, where

they were living, they were

actually considered the vice

districts of these cities, where

they might never havechosen to

be, but these were the only

neighborhoods that they were

permitted to live in.

[ Indistinct conversations ]

>> This is the first building on

this block where a white owner

sold to a black resident.

This was a solidly white area,

and it was a solidly white


And Chicago was a very

segregated city, and there was a

very small area where black

people lived.

It was called the "Black Belt."

>> We're talking about a narrow

strip roughly from about

35th Street, down to about

47th Street.

That's where all

African-Americans were in the

city of Chicago.

>> The black families are not

allowed into the suburbs.

There was -- they called it the

"Chicago wall," the wall around

Chicago keeping black peoplein.

>> When the first Negroes began

to move in, a kind of collective

panic seized the white

residents, most of whom were of

Irish descent.

It seemed to be taken for

granted that there was no

possibility of white and black

living side by side in peace and


No attempt was made to integrate

the newcomers into the white


>> There were instances when

blacks began to move on to a

block where you would see an

open amount of hostility to that

family moving in to the block.

>> From the mid 1940s on, there

were a series of riots, usually

thousands of people massing

around one building where a

black family had moved.

>> A Negro bus driver,

Harvey Clark, rented an

apartment here on July 11, 1951.

>> Clark, an army veteran, and

his wife, Johnetta, tried to

move outside the Black Belt of

Chicago, to Cicero.

>> He was a bus driver.

She was taking care of their two

young children.

They had been living in that

narrow band of space to which

African-Americans were consigned

on the South Side of Chicago at

that time.

They were actually living in an

apartment that they shared with

another family.

And so, when they found this

apartment, they were thrilled to

be able to find a place that was

actually convenient to his work.

And upon arrival, they were met

with the sheriff and other

authorities who would not permit

them to go in.

They then had to go and get a

court order to move in to the

apartment that they had already


They returned with the court

order to move in, but, as they

were moving in, there was a

crowd that began to swell.

At one point, there were 4,000

people who gathered around

them -- so hostile that they

were not permitted to actually

move in themselves that night.

And after they left, some people

in the mob went into the

apartment, ransacked it, and

hurled out of the window the

sofa, the chairs, the table.

They ended up wrenching the

radiators and the faucets and

the toilets and the sinks out of

the wall and hurling them out of

the window.

>> So it's like a crazed mob.

>> A crazed mob.

And then, after they did that,

they then set the whole building

afire so thatno one could live

in the building.

[ Woman screams ]

>> They hurled firebombs, rocks,

and bottles at the building.

Before the disturbance was over,

martial law had been declared in

the area.

[ Indistinct shouting, glass

shattering ]

In all, 23 persons were injured,

a dozen others arrested.

>> As more people arrived, they

began to push the boundaries

further and further as to where

they could live, merely because

they were bursting with little

in the way of options where they


As they attempted to leave,

that's when they ran into the

redlining and the restrictive

covenants that meant that they

were not able to move as freely

as they might have hoped.

>> Well, redlining is remarkably


Insurance companies and banks

had maps where they literally

drew red lines on the map

around neighborhoods.

"And so this is an area that we

are not going to lend in."

Typically, what would happen is

that a bank or an insurance

company would make a decision

about the racial composition of

the neighborhood.

So if it began to transition to

an African-American

neighborhood, it was deemed as

"too risky," right, too risky to

grant mortgages in that

neighborhood or to insure


>> In those days, banks were


Typically, most banks operated

in one town.

So there also an unwritten code

that said, "We won't rent to, we

won't sell to, we won't finance

a home that an African-American

wants to buy."

Indeed, real-estate agents

wouldn't evenshow homes to

African-Americans in



So you had a officialdom plus

custom working hand in hand to

maintain a system of just

outright exclusion and denial.

I mean, it was truly an American

system of apartheid.

>> The federal government would

not insure FHA loans for black


It was written in their


And then, because of that, the

banks followed suit, and they

just did not make regular

mortgages or conventional

mortgages to anybody that was

living within certain redlined


>> Because banks refused to

loan, black people were left

with the alternative of buying

on contract, which is

essentially the same as buying

on an installment plan.

>> There are blocks like this

scattered throughout the

Lawndale section of Chicago's

West Side ghetto.

The people who live here bought

their homes from real-estate

speculators at double or triple

their value, and they bought on

contract because they couldn't

get conventional or FHA


Under the contract, the buyer

makes installment payments at

high interest, but he builds no


If he defaults on even one

payment at any time during the

contract, he loses the property

and everything he's paid in to


>> It was Jack Macnamara who

organized college students to do

property research one property

at a time, and they did every

property in this eight-block

surrounding area.

And they found out all had been

sold on contract, all had

suffered immense markups, and

everyone living here was

struggling to make those


>> If you have a $25,000

contract and the FHA appraisal

is for $15,000 and you're paying

interest on $10,000 more than

you should be paying...

We have good information that at

least $500 million was legally

stolen from the black community

in Chicago alone during the

period between 1940 and 1970.

>> Contract sellers and other

speculators were making so much

money they began to deliberately

panic whites into leaving their


>> Speculators understood that,

if they can get the whites who

lived here to leave, they could

turn around and resell the

properties at a very significant

markup to black people who

wanted these nice, beautiful

brick homes.

>> So they essentially came here

and provoked the homeowners into

selling their property?

>> Right.

What would happen is a salesman

would go to your door and say,


Are you interested in selling?"

And you'd say, "No, not really."

They'd say, "Fine.

You don't want to sell?

Don't worry.

I'll be back in a week, and I'll

offer you, mm, $1,000 less.

But fine. No problem.

Just wait it out if you'd like


You should know blacks are


Your home will be worth less

very soon.

Sell now.

Get out while you can."

[ Minor key piano plays ]

Often, middle-class black

families would be the first to

move in to a white area.

>> 4338. That's the address.

>> What happened here, it's a

good example of the kind of

violence that black families


This particular house was

purchased in 1959 by a black

couple, Josh and

Barbara Hargrave, and they had

four children.

They could afford to move to

this area.

They put a $9,000 down payment

at a time when a $1,000 down

payment was considered quite


Once they moved in to the

property and people saw who was

living there, you had three days

of rioting in the streets, up

to -- from 1,000 to 5,000 white

people in the streets, stoning

the building, throwing lighted

torches at the building.

People would go around to the

back porch, which is wooden, and

try to set fire to it.

They were chanting, "We want


You know, "Get out of here.

We don't want you here."

>> So these riots became a

common occurrence?

>> They were common.

People talked about it summer

after summer.

This whole history of white

rioting and white violence has

been historically buried.

When people think of violence

and riots in the street, they

always think of the 1960s, when

black people rioted.

But whenwhite people rioted, it

doesn't even have a name.

[ Indistinct shouting ]

>> Get out of here!

>> Ilive here!

Those [bleep] niggers don't live


[ Shouting continues ]

>> Tell them niggers to go home!

>> My understanding is that,

when these mobs just sort of got

out of control, they would be

screaming the worst kinds of


>> And that was quite traumatic

for parents and children alike,

parents who don't want their

children to hear such a thing.

Imagine seeing this.

And so, yeah, they'd be

screaming, "Nigger, go home!

Die, nigger, die."

In other neighborhoods in

Chicago, they had little chants

like, "I wish I was an Alabama


That's what I would like to be.

Because if I was an Alabama

trooper, I could murder niggers


[ Indistinct shouting, gunshot ]

Martin Luther King, when he came

to Chicago, said that, "People

in Mississippi should come to

Chicago to learn how to hate."

>> How do you feel about this

reception, sir?

>> Well, this is a terrible


I've been in many demonstrations

all across the South, but I can

say that I have never seen, even

in Mississippi and Alabama, mobs

as hostile and as hate-filled as

I have seen in Chicago.

>> But the march will go on...

[ "Make it Rain" plays ]

[ Indistinct shouting ]

>> Get out of here!

[ Shouting continues ]

>> ♪ You find your pleasure

♪ In someone else's pain

♪ Not a cloud in the sky

♪ You will still find a way to

make it rain ♪

>> One of the heartbreaking

things about the whole situation

was that basically black people

and white people were pursuing

the same middle-class values.

They wanted to save money.

They wanted to invest in a

property that they could take

care of and call their own.

But when white people did that,

they were rewarded, as you would

expect, with usually property

appreciation and a sense of


But when black people followed

the same identical path of

attempting to save and invest,

they were punished.

It becomes a method of luring

them into a trap that will end

updraining them of wealth

instead of helping them tobuild


[ Mid-tempo music plays ]

>> This project represents the

future of a great city.

>> One of the responses to the

influx of people from the South

to the North was the federal

government, with local

government authorities, built

these massive public-housing

developments -- Cabrini-Green,

you know, Pruitt-Igoe in

Saint Louis -- these massive


When you look at the old

brochures and sales pitches that

were made, what people were told

is that these were gonna be

well-kept, as nice as any

penthouse, that there were gonna

be services provided, that this

was gonna beimproved housing,

and it was going to betemporary


And to some extent, people were

sold a bill of goods, and it

became almost a sanctioned


>> While law and custom kept

blacks warehoused in inner

cities, the mammoth federal

Interstate Highway System,

financed by taxpayers, was

opening up suburbs all across

the country.

This created enormous amounts of

both good jobs and new housing.

But, once again,

African-Americans were left out.

Blacks were not welcome in the

construction and other trades,

and they were systematically

prevented from moving in to the


For example, they were kept out

of the affordable Levittown

communities in New York and


These gateways to the middle

class were initially marked

"white only."

It wasn't until 1957 that the

first black family bought a home

in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

A film captured some of the


>> A major factor is fear...

>> I came from a small town

where we didn't have any colored


>> ...fear of economic loss...

>> Well, the property values

will immediately go down if

they are allowed to move in here

in any number.

>> ...and fear of intermarriage.

>> They have told my children

that they have to marry niggers.

>> Six decades have passed, and

the Levittowns are still nearly

entirely white.

[ Mid-tempo jazz music plays ]

There are two fundamental

pillars to the creation of a

middle-class standard of living.

The first is a job.

That is a essential to support a

family and to provide an

education for children.

The second pillar is a home.

The purchase of a home is the

way most families begin to build

wealth, and wealth offers both

economic security and a pathway

to success for future


Blacks were not only shut out of

most decent jobs -- they were

ruthlessly kept out of decent


So, this is what's considered

Upper Montclair.

Nice homes.

When I was growing up, my family

and I could not have lived in

any of these homes in

Upper Montclair.

Blacks were just not welcome.

You wouldn't be able to buy a


If you had the down payment, you

most likely would not be able to

get a mortgage.

In those days, even ads in the

newspapers for rentals would say

"whites only," "white tenancy."

And this is in Montclair,

New Jersey, in the 1950s and


We're not talking about the


We're not talking about

Mississippi and Alabama and

Georgia and Tennessee.

[ Acoustic blues guitar plays ]

Elijah Cummings parents settled

in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1964, the family had saved

enough money to move to a better



>> Hey, Bob.

>> Good to see you.

>> Good seeing you, too.

This is my brother James.

>> James.

>> Good to meet you.

>> When we moved up here, we

thought we were moving in to


We had moved from a very small

house, where we were pretty much

on top of each other.

>> Really?

>> [ Laughs ]

>> And now we had four bedrooms

and had a club cellar, even had

a -- not only did we have a

dining room, but had abreakfast


>> Look out.

[ Laughter ]

>> And real grass.

>> And real grass.

>> Real grass, right.

So, when you moved here, did you

guys feel like your family was

moving up in class?

>> Oh, I had no doubt that we

were moving up.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> I mean, you know, when you

are living in a house that's

bigger than the house you had,

that you now have all these

beautiful lawns, and then the

schools being better, you can't

help but feel that you've moved

up, because it's your whole


Everything you do is different.

>> Right.

Despite the low expectations of

his sixth grade counselor,

Elijah Cummings studied hard and

found a fast track to his


>> My father was a role model.

This guy believed in education.

I mean, he would tell us that,

"You know, if you missed one day

of school, that meant you died

the night before."

And he meant it.

I did not miss one hour of

school from kindergarten

straight through graduating from

the 12th grade -- not a moment,


And I did well enough to get

into the high school of my

choice -- Baltimore City College

High School.

And we would have to get up --

Back then, we were in shifts

because there so many students.

But I might have to get up at

5:00 in the morning to catch a

bus to go all the way across

town, but I was happy to do it.

I was happy to do it because it

gave me pride and it gave me


>> He earned a spot at one of

America's leading black

colleges -- Howard University in

Washington, D.C.

>> My father took me to Howard.

And before he let me out, he

said, "Boy," he said, "your mama

and me, we done brought you as

far as we can."

He said, "You know, we didn't

have that much education."

He said, "But we gonna leave you

in the hands of these smart

people up here.

And they're gonna give you a

good education."

When I got to Howard, it was

far, far, far more than I ever

dreamed of.

I had never seen that many black

professionalsanywhere in one


And I went into my classes --

and just brilliant, brilliant,

very caring African-American and

white professors who cared about

the students, wanted us to

achieve things.

I knew I was on my way.

>> Cummings became a lawyer, his

childhood dream, and, in 1996,

he was elected to Congress.

>> When I became a congressman,

my father came to see me get

sworn in.

He was in the balcony.

Newt Gingrich was swearing me


And my father...

was crying.

I never seen my daddy cry.

Said, "Daddy, you crying.

Why you crying?"

I said, "You crying 'cause you

so happy that I became a


He said, "I'm really proud of


You know, he said, "Don't get me


I'm really proud of you.

I know that, in this place, they

used to call us slaves.

In these place, they called us

three-fifths of a man.

In this same place, they called

us chattel."

He said, "So I'm really proud

that they now gonna call you a


He said, "But the thing that

made me cry was that, realizing

that I was deprived of an

education, I now realize what I

could've been."

And every single time, every

time I walk through the halls of

Congress, I think about that --

now a man who was slowly

approaching his death, talking

about what hecould've been.

>> We're coming to an area where

my father had two stores in the

1960s and '70s on Main Street in

Orange, New Jersey.

In those days, this was a pretty

thriving, middle-class business


My father was one of the few

black business owners.

So, the main reason these shops

did so well had to do with the

clientele, most of whom came

from the suburbs.

That's where the money was,

that's where my father's

customers came from, and we were

just up there all the time,

giving estimates, fitting slip

covers, measuring for draperies,

carrying furniture out to be


They were heady times for my old

man and for my mom.

What they needed, though, and

what my father wanted was to


So I would be with him when he

was talking with other business


These were white business owners

who had larger businesses than

my father.

And they liked my old man, and

they lived the work that he did.

And so they would say, "Chester,

you have to expand your


And they'd say, "Get a bank


So funny, you know?

"Get a bank loan."

[ Chuckles ] He needed to raise

capital, so the answer was, "Get

a bank loan."

Well, they couldn'tget a bank


They weren't giving bank loans

to guys who look like my father.

>> Here is Mr. Adams with the

president of the

Elmville National Bank.

>> Well, I think we can make you

this loan.

And this is where you sign.

>> It wasn't just the private

sector throwing up these

maddening roadblocks.

In 1935, Congress enacted

Social Security only after

Southern segregationists were

assured its benefits would not

go to agricultural and domestic

workers -- the jobs held by most


So, for example, a woman could

work faithfully for 40 years as

a maid and then retire with no

pension, no Social Security --

no money at all.

Blacks fought valiantly in

World War II, but, when they

came home, they found that in

many states, especially in the

South, they were being denied

the benefits of the GI Bill.

Those benefits lifted millions

of whites into the middle class

in the years after the

Second World War.

[ Slow martial drum beating ]

[ Slow brass music plays ]

I've frankly found it remarkable

that blacks were able to

establish any kind of economic

foundation in the U.S.

With every improvement in their

economic or social

circumstances, black Americans

met resistance from white


And yet, by the mid 1960s, a

significant black middle class

existed, and it was growing.

The civil rights movement and

the policies of

President Lyndon B. Johnson

substantially improved the

quality of life for black


Congress passed and Johnson

signed the Civil Rights Act of

1964 and the Voting Rights Act

of 1965.

[ Applause ]

>> We seek not just freedom but


We seek not just legal equity

but human ability -- not just

equality as a right and a theory

but equality as a fact and

equality as a result.

[ Applause ]

>> Even as riots were raging in

the wake of the assassination of

the Reverend

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

Johnson signed the

Fair Housing Act of 1968.

It prohibited discrimination in

the sale, rental, and financing

of housing based on race,

religion, natural origin, and


Throughout the '60s and '70s,

black students were enrolling in

colleges and universities in

greater numbers, and

affirmative-action policies were

prying open additional doors of


[ Jazz music plays ]

Most important of all in terms

of the growth of the black

middle class was the continued

growth in the access of

government jobs for blacks.

Government employment at the

federal, state, and local level,

including management and

supervisory jobs in the agencies

created during the

War on Poverty, has, more than

any other single factor, lifted

large numbers of blacks out of

poverty and into the middle


With so much bias in the private

sector, there wouldn't be much

of a black middle class at all

without government employment.

>> More and more millions of


>> But as the black middle class

grew, it met with a fierce


>> Massive busing produces

inferior education.

>> New but equally insidious

strategies of resistance were

developed by white leaders...

>> And we're going to enforce

the law, and Americans should

remember that if we're going to

have law and order.

>> They're paying people on

welfare today for doing nothing.

>> ...with coded language and

deceitful policy pronouncements

designed to disguise hostility

to blacks.

>> Government is not the

solution to our problem.

Governmentis the problem.

>> Listen to Lee Atwater, a key

advisor to Ronald Reagan and

George H.W. Bush, explaining how

to get racist whites to vote for


>> You know?

>> Reagan opened his 1980

general-election campaign near

Philadelphia, Mississippi,

where, in 1964, three young

civil rights workers were

brutally murdered by white


Reagan made a sly reference to

the enthusiastic white crowd

that had come to that notorious

site to hear him.

"States rights" was the term

that had long been used to

justify first slavery, then


Everyone recognized it as a dog

whistle that signaled support

for bigotry.

[ Cheers and applause ]

>> If we just reflect on the

fact that, for 250 years, we had

slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow,

and there's all of this

indoctrination that you're

inferior and your life is not

worth very much 'cause you're

black, I think a lot of that was


I still see a lot of black

people, even professional black

people, who internally struggle

with feelings of inferiority,

that they still have to prove


I knowI did that.

>> Poussaint did his psychiatric

training at UCLA.

>> I couldn't get an apartment

in Westwood, where UCLA was,

because they didn't rent to


Had to send out other doctors to

try to rent an apartment for me.

And then I met the same type of

prejudice among doctors and the

trainees at UCLA, where one

doctor invited me to his party,

the chief of a department, and

one of the residents, white

residents, came and said, "The

invitation was just his being


He doesn't really want you to

come, because he believes in

segregation and he was recruited

from a Southern university."

Embedded in all of this, these

values and behaviors, was white


>> That bigotry is a reality

that has touched virtually every


>> When I was four, my parents

moved to a white neighborhood.

I remember the move-in day, how

excited we were to be in the


A couple of days later, we were

playing outside, and two white

children came out next door.

They were almost exactly our

ages and size.

We ran to the fence.

They ran to the fence.

It looked like, "Wow, we have

great neighbors, and they're our


The mother came out, screaming

at the children, calling us

names, and started beating the

children to tell them not to

play with us.

It happened two or three other

times, and it got to the point

where our parents taught us

that, if we were playing and

those children came out, we

should immediately come in so

that the children would not be


>> I'll give you a story, and

this is one of the biggest

moments of my young-adult life.

When Karla was pregnant, we took

a trip to New York, and we went

by train.

So I'm dressed as conservative

andGQ as you could possibly

be -- to the 9s, 10s, and 11s.

I was just kind of moving up in

the world and, you know, feeling


Karla was clearly seven, eight,

nine months pregnant.

And I just remember being at

Madison Square Garden, trying to

hail a cab.

And this scruffy white guy was

walking right behind us -- not

that he did anything wrong,

just, you know, had on jeans,

and I specifically remember

there's a hole in his jeans, and

he was just kind of, you know,


I raised my hand to get a cab.

They slow down.

They're coming towards us.

And then he comes up, and he

does the same thing a few feet

in front of us.

And the cab driver accelerates,

almost runs over my shoes, picks

up this guy.

I look at the guy because he

knows that clearly he just, you

know, "jumped in line."

And he just looked at me, and he

just kind of like, "What are

you gonna do?"

And he shrugged.

I really wanted him to say, "No,

cad driver.

You back up, and you pick up

that pregnant woman -- and her

well-dressed husband."

[ Laughing ] You know?

I wanted him to say that because

then that would've sort of said

society is against that type of


But that's not what happened.

No matter how I define myself,

there's still large segments

of the country that are not

going to first evaluate what I

do, but they're just gonna make

snap judgments because my skin

is not white.

>> Sybil Morial recalled what it

was like when she headed off to

Boston, to college.

>> I went on a train to Boston.

I went to Boston University.

And my father brought me to the

train station.

We had to go around the corner

to the back entrance to go in.

When you walked up to the train,

the porter said, "Go in here."

That was the first car behind

the engine.

That was the colored car.

And half of it was the baggage


It was the baggage car.

So we had to go -- He said, "Go

up the steps, and go to your


>> So, black people, called

colored people in those days,

had to ride in the same car with

the baggage?

>> That's right.

There was a division, but half

was for baggage and half for

colored people.

>> By this time, you're of

college age.

You have a real familiarity with

what's going on.

How'd you feel?

>> Well, it didn't feel good.

But it was the reality, and so

you adjusted to it.

It's very interesting -- the

dining car setup was we could

eat in the dining car, but you

were seated at this table next

to the kitchen.

And after you were seated, they

drew a curtain around you.

[ Ominous music plays ]

>> The exclusion, the deliberate

humiliation, the violence, the

nonstop discrimination, it all

fed a pervasive anger and often

rage among blacks that most

often was kept under wraps.

>> My father, when he came home

from work, he would always sit

in his car.

I don't care how cold it was or

how hot it was.

And I said, "Dad, why do you do


Why'd you just do that?"

He said, "Because the pain, the

racism and stuff I was going

through, was so rough on me I

wanted to make sure I did not

come into my family angry and

then take it out on them."

>> We used to call it, "You're

wearing a mask," so you can take

your mask off when you come


It just means that you put on a

different face.

There's certain things you hear

at work where, if you weren't at

work, you were in another

situation, you might've blown up

at them.

If someone said something to you

that you felt could be perceived

as racially offensive, at work,

you don't blow up.

You just kind of take it in


You take a breath, you keep


>> I remember my first year as a

federal prosecutor.

The things that happened in the

office -- people coming up to

you and asking you to type, you

know, type for them, and going

into courtrooms, people assuming

that you were the court clerk,

asking you when the judge is

gonna come on the bench.

And I recall a friend of mine --

we were working together.

She went to court as a

government attorney, and she's


And the judge said, "It would be

great if the government had

shown up."

Because he assumed that, she was

black, that meant she was the

defendant in the case.

Things like that, that happened

day in, day out.

And, you know, gives black

professionals -- We're all

suppressing a certain amount of

rage, the rage from being -- you

know, people treating you as if

you're not competent, that you

don't deserve to be in the chair

that you're sitting in.

And it's something that you have

to manage, but it's just not

healthy to live like that.

[ Mid-tempo jazz music plays ]

[ Indistinct conversations ]

>> Despite everything, despite

the long, hard struggle, the

racism, and social

marginalization, it looked as if

the 21st century might be

heralding a new era of

increasing black prosperity.

Wages had climbed modestly,

unemployment rates had declined,

and home ownership was up.

Z. Scott, after a stint in

government as a federal

prosecutor, became a corporate

lawyer, and was appointed a

partner at her firm in

Chicago -- a city in which,

still today, less than 1% of law

partners are black women.

>> So we started the

Black Women Lawyers Association

and brought together black women

judges and lawyers and corporate

lawyers and law-firm lawyers,

all coming together so we could

talk about that common


And that we got here as a result


>> For those of you who are new

to BWLA, we were born out of a

time where black female

attorneys were looking for


Black middle class is having an


It has a stronger sense of

accomplishment when you think

about the idea that you're a

part of a race that, for so

long, you weren't allowed to

know how to read and you weren't

allowed to go to school.

So when you think about being

black middle class, it makes you

just a little bit more proud of

what you've been able to

accomplish because you have

opportunities that your

forefathers did not have.

>> My grandmother actually came

to Chicago in the 1940s, after

picking cotton in Mississippi.

And the only thing she wanted

for me and for all of us was the

chance to be part of a black

middle class.

>> One of the largest black

middle-class communities in

America is

Prince George's County,

Maryland, just outside

Washington, D.C.

Brent Swinton and his wife,

Karla, live here with their two


He's a professional fundraiser.

She's in marketing.

>> Mom.

>> Hmm?

>> When you make omelettes, it's

just not my taste.

>> Yes, itis.

>> Well, when you make scrambled


But whenI make omelettes, the

world stops and stares for


>> [ Chuckles ] They do?

>> To me, middle class means

that we're not really rich,

rich, rich, and we're not really

poor, so we're in the middle.

>> Being black middle class

means that, wherever you've

arrived, you've only been there

just in the span of your life.

>> Rakes.

>> We may have arrived to a

degree, but we just got here.

So it's still not quite the


I drive through a neighborhood

in Bethesda which is absolutely

white, and they're not the

wealthiest of the wealthy, but

there's something that has gone

on, that takes place over more

than one generation, that allows

them to pass along a much

greater head start.

I don't begrudge them anything,

because I want to do that formy


I want to leave them something

tangible and valuable.

But in general, people who are

just across that finish line

into being middle-class blacks,

it's a new experience.

Mommy always asks how come I

don't pay somebody to do this.

Look, I've already done a

quarter of a yard.

Pretty soon, you guys won't need

me out here at all.

You just handle it.

>> No.

>> The absence of wealth makes

it extremely difficult for

African-American parents to pass

their middle-class status along

to their children.

And there's nothing to fall back

on if there's an economic


>> When you have no wealth or

very little wealth, that means

you have nothing to rely on.

You have no assets that can be

readily translated into cash to

help support yourself, and that

means that, you know, you're

looking for probably public

assistance to help you put food

on your table and keep a roof

over your head, or you're

entering the ranks of the


>> You don't have anything to

cushion the blow.

>> There's no cushion.

>> Right.

[ Bell dinging rapidly ]

>> That absence of wealth, a

major weak spot in the fragile

underpinnings of the black

middle class, proved

catastrophic when, almost

without warning, the economy

collapsed in the Great Recession

and housing-foreclosure crisis.

>> Big trouble for millions of

American homeowners, as a

slowing housing market has

turned some mortgages into time


>> Former Fed Chairman

Alan Greenspan wrote, "The

current crisis is likely to be

the most wrenching since the end

of the Second World War."

>> The entire middle class was

hurt by the crisis, but for the

black middle class, the

economic setbacks were


>> The housing crisis in 2008

wiped out the wealth of black

people, and they are not even

close to recovering.

>> Decades of African-American

progress were reduced to ruins

in a seeming instant.

>> Businesses, banks, and

others -- brokers -- were

functionally wealth-stripping,

deliberately wealth-stripping

from communities of color.

>> Like the contract buyers of

old, blacks were targeted for

bad loans.

>> If you're African-American

making more than $100,000, you

were more likely to be put into

a subprime loan than if you were

a white person making less than


>> Cross burnings are the most

overt form of discrimination and


Lending discrimination is some

of the most subtle.

It's what I call "discrimination

with a smile."

>> We've developed a culture in

this country of legalized

stealing from poor and oppressed

people, and particularly


>> Many who had a

middle-class -- stable

middle-class lifestyle pre the

recession find themselves in a

less stable, stressful


Many who may have owned their

homes donot own their homes.

Many who worked in a

better-paying job now work in a

job that pays far less.

>> The Dunwell family in

Springfield, Massachusetts, felt

the ground beneath them opening

up when David lost his job in

the Great Recession.

>> Immediately, upon losing my

job, I tried to work and

negotiate with the banks to see

if I could bring my mortgage

payment down a little bit.

There was a lot of

back-and-forth between me and

the banks.

They needed some form of income

that was steady, and

unemployment was not what they

considered acceptable income.

After nine months, the bank

started sending letters, pretty

much letting me know that

they're starting the foreclosure


I had to approach my family, and

I had to explain to them what it

is that we were going through.

And that was the toughest part.

That was good teamwork, girls.

>> This house is our money pit.

[ Laughs ] We put a lot of

sweat --

[ Laughs ]

We put so much towards this


I mean, it means everything just

to have a home.

>> Help us in Thy cause...

>> The Dunwells decided to fight

the foreclosure.

>> The bank had this idea that

they were going to punish

homeowners for bad behavior.

But the banks had created this

crisis, this economic crisis,

and no one really punished the


They took bailout money.

That bailout money, part of it

was supposed to help the

consumer, help the homeowners to

be able to stay in their homes.

At no point did they come up

with an idea or plan to help

these homeowners who had fell

behind in their payments.

>> And so we believe that people

who've been foreclosed on should


>> I'm hoping that we're able to

buy back our homes at this point

and really be done with this.

There's a lot of people

throughout this country that are

suffering, have lost their life


>> The Great Recession and the

housing crisis showed once again

just how elusive the American

dream has been for


>> African-Americans have not

had a fair shot at the American


They've hardly had a fair shot

at anything, and it is quite

extraordinary that

African-Americans have managed

to do as well as they have.

The discrimination that has your

house not earning any value,

your job not paying as much as

it would've paid if you had been

white, and access to very few

jobs has made it hard for black

people to get on a highway to


They've been on little roads,

back roads to opportunity, but

haven't been on a highway.

>> Have African-Americans had a

fair shot at the American dream?

>> No.

No, I don't think they've had a

fair shot, because they've been

systematically discriminated

against, and that has not


So, no, I don't think we've had

a fair shake at the American


>> Have African-Americans had a

fair shot at the American dream?

>> No.

>> No?

>> No.

>> End of story?

>> End of story.

>> I don't even think the full

story of the overt racism in

this country has been well-told,

and I don't think most people

understand it.

The moresubtle forms of

discrimination are not even

addressed at all.

People pretend that those subtle

forms of discrimination, which

are incredibly debilitating,

people pretend that they don't

even exist.

And then there all kinds of

people who practice racism who,

in my view, are racists because

they treat black people like

second-class citizens.

They don't want to live in the

same neighborhoods as blacks.

They don't want their kids to go

to school with black children.

These folks don'tconsider

themselves racist, but theyare,

and they're inflicting harm on


They keep African-Americans out

of decent jobs.

They keep African-Americans out

of decent neighborhoods.

This is something that needs to

be fought against and fought

against hard and relentlessly,

and I don't think it's been

fought against nearly hard


[ Bird cries ]

>> We face this great

contradiction in terms.

You know, on one hand, we see a

black man achieve the highest

office in human history, the

presidency of the United States.

Yet you see a recession that has

cost all people but, more

severely, black people a great

deal of wealth and a great sense

of economic gains.

And you see a vicious political

movement in this country that

wants to suppress the vote.

So it's a contradiction in

terms -- the best and the worst,

to some extent, side by side.

[ Slow jazz music plays ]

>> When I think of the black

experience in America, the word

that comes to mind is "heroism."

Black people, in the face of the

worst kinds of exploitation and

oppression, refused to stay in

their so-called "place."

They have refused to allow

whites to confine them within

social and economic boundaries

defined by race.

Always, there was someone to

take a stand, whether it meant

resisting the terrors of

Jim Crow or the murderous

violence of white supremacists

or the denial of the right to

vote or when parishioners are

murdered in the sacred confines

of houses of worship.

The suffering has, at times,

been unimaginable, and the great

gleaming promise of America has

never been as bright for black

Americans as it has been for


But none of that has mattered.

Blacks have never given in.

Millions of blacks have in fact

made it into the American middle

class, and some have even become

very wealthy.

Millions of young

African-Americans have graduated

from college and gone on to

distinguished careers.

Statistics show that there is

still a very long road to


There is far too much poverty

and very little real wealth in

the black community.

The criminal-justice system is

too often responsible for

outright atrocities.

And blacks have never approached

the true heights of their

educational potential.

And even now, the rigging of the

rules continues with

voter-suppression campaigns, the

rollback of the

Voting Right Act, and the

relentless assault on the

government jobs so crucial to

black advancement.

But no amount of cruelty or

injustice will stop that black


There are no barriers that can't

be overcome.

When dreams remain unrealized,

it simply means the fight goes


[ Slow jazz music plays ]

[ Mid-tempo jazz music plays ]

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