Urban League says U.S. blacks face worst fate

January 09, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON — ...HTC WASHINGTON -- Black Americans will suffer the most if the nation's two worst nightmares, a deep recession and a war in the Persian Gulf, become reality, the National Urban League said yesterday.

Double-digit unemployment rates and income gaps at every level during the "supposed good times of the 1980s [mean] African-Americans have been in a permanent recession," league President John E. Jacob said at a news conference, at which he unveiled the civil rights group's 16th annual "State of Black America" report.

"A deep recession would be devastating to African-American workers . . . and a grave threat to the emerging black middle class," he said.

A gulf war could also cost blacks more, both in lost lives and in lost leadership, because blacks represent a relatively high proportion of both the reserves and the all-volunteer armed forces, the league said.

The current economic downturn makes passage of civil rights legislation, vetoed by President Bush last year, an "urgent necessity," Mr. Jacob said.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991, designed to strengthen laws banning discrimination in the workplace, was introduced in the House last week and is expected to be introduced in the Senate within two weeks. Mr. Bush vetoed a similar measure last year, saying it would lead employers fearful of being sued to use sex- and race-based hiring and promotion quotas.

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