Fifty years after the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, African-Americans are still disproportionately affected by violent crime.
While the overall murder rate in the U.S. has fallen over the past several years, the number of black male victims in poorer inner-city areas, has increased, reports The Wall Street Journal
The number of black male murder victims rose more than 10% from 2000 to 2010, to 5,942 from 5,307, according to its analysis of homicide data. Although African Americans make up only 14% of the population, more than half of the country's homicide victims are black.
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In his speech Wednesday
commemorating the March, President Barack Obama said, "The shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence."
The violence, along with a crackdown on drug crimes that has often involved mandatory sentences, has also led to an escalation in incarceration rates for black men.
In 1960, 1,313 African-American men were incarcerated for every 100,000 black U.S. residents, according to the Pew Research Center
. By 2010, that number had climbed to 4,347. By contrast, the numbers for white men were 262 and 678, respectively.
Police, politicians and community leaders are struggling to tackle the violence. The Journal points to Richmond, Calif., as a success story. In 2008, Richmond officials implemented measures taken from a program called Operation Ceasefire
that was adopted in Boston in 1995.
Richmond identified several dozen black men in the city "most likely either to kill or be killed within six months," DeVone Boggan, the neighborhood safety director, told the newspaper. It then assigned each participant a "caregiver," helped connect them with jobs, gave them small stipends and opportunities to travel outside the city.
From 2009 through 2012, the number of firearm-related homicides fell 45 percent and firearm-related assaults dropped 44 percent, according to Boggan.
"We've still got a lot to figure out in Richmond," he said. "But we're miles ahead of where we were five years ago."
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