“In 1963, more than a quarter-million people came together in Washington, DC for The Great March for Jobs and Freedom, a watershed moment in black history. As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of this event and reflect on the progress we’ve made toward economic equality, we are faced with the sobering truth that—while much has been achieved—so much more needs to be done.” – Marc H. Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League

For Marc Morial, one of the most pressing issues facing African Americans in 2013 is the widening wealth gap between blacks and whites.

“These conditions have not changed,” Morial said in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com.

On Wednesday, Morial will release the National Urban League’s annual State of Black America report, “Redeem the Dream,” which will outline in detail the economic challenges confronting black Americans 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington.

While Morial said there are more black high school graduates than 50 years ago, and less black people living in poverty than in 1963, the wealth gap between blacks and whites remains a critical problem in the fight for economic parity.

“In this report,” Morial said, “we also offer solutions.”

The solutions include a five-year initiative to expand job training programs, lobbying Congress to enact social justice legislation, and working closer with the NAACP, black pastors, and Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network to help improve the quality of life for black people.

“We’re working with this generation’s civil rights leaders to inspire and empower the black community,” Morial said. “We’re not sitting on the sidelines.”

Morial said the 37th edition of the State of Black America, Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America also commemorates the milestones that have occurred in black history in the 50 years since the height of the civil rights movement.

This year’s publication features essays by an esteemed group of leaders from leading corporations, not-for-profit organizations, academia and news media, as well as members of the president’s cabinet and federal lawmakers. The State of Black America, Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America also includes a commemorative Special Collection of essays that pay homage to the early freedom fighters in the civil rights movement.

This Special Collection includes reflections from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-OH).

In addition to the State of the Black Union report, the Urban League, earlier this year, announced a two-pronged initiative that includes a series of public and private investments totaling more than $70 million over the next five years. Existing programs will be supplemented and new programs created, reaching thousands of job-seekers, youth and entrepreneurs, and putting urban America back to work.

The second component of the initiative is an aggressive grassroots advocacy campaign focused on federal legislative action to create permanent pathways to employment for at-risk teenagers and young adults.

“Throughout the Great Recession, our network of nearly 100 affiliates has served as economic first responders for communities devastated by job loss,” Morial said. “Urban League affiliates have a solid track record of success in creating economic opportunity and preparing people to take advantage of those opportunities.  We’ve worked very closely with our partners in the private sector and in the federal government to maximize resources and mobilize the strength of our collaborative efforts.”

The expansion comes as part of the National Urban League’s ongoing “War on Unemployment” launched in 2011, which included the release of a 12-Point Plan: Putting Urban America Back to Work, and a nationwide jobs tour.

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