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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release September 18, 1998
             Culminating Event with the Advisory Board to the
                      President's Initiative on Race

                            September 18, 1998

Today the seven members of the Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race will meet with the President in the Oval Office to talk with him about their experiences, observations and recommendations for fostering better race relations in our country.

In an event following the meeting, the President will thank the board members and Race Initiative Executive Director Judith Winston for their efforts over the past year and will release a fact book compiled by the Council of Economic Advisors entitled, Changing America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being by Race and Hispanic Origin. Attending the ceremony will be leaders from various sectors -- education, business, youth, government, religious -- who represent the individuals of diverse backgrounds and views who are working to build bridges between people of different races.

Advisory Board Members

Linda Chavez-Thompson, of Washington, D.C., Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO
Suzan D. Johnson Cook, of Bronx, NY, Senior Pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church
John Hope Franklin, of Durham, NC, former Professor of legal history at Duke University Law School
Thomas H. Kean, of Madison, NJ, President of Drew University and former Republican Governor of New Jersey Angela E. Oh, of Los Angeles, Attorney, Beck, De Corso, Daly, Berrera & Oh
Robert J. Thomas, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, Executive Vice President, Republic Industries
William F. Winter, of Jackson, MS, Attorney, Watkins, Ludlam & Stennis, and former Democratic Governor of Mississippi Judith A. Winston, of Washington, DC, PIR Executive Director

Summaries of CEA and Advisory Board reports are attached.

                             Changing America:
                Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being 
                        by Race and Hispanic Origin

This chart book documents current differences in well-being by race and Hispanic origin and describes how such differences have evolved over the past several decades. The book is designed to further one of the goals of the President's Initiative on Race: To educate Americans about the facts surrounding the issue of race in America.

The book includes key indicators of well-being in seven broad categories:

Whenever the data are available, the charts compare trends in the U.S. population among whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians. Several themes occur across the charts:

Race and ethnicity continue to be salient predictors of well-being in American society. Non-Hispanic whites and Asians tend to experience advantages in health, education, and economic status relative to blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians.

Over the second half of the 20th century, black Americans have made substantial progress relative to whites in many areas. But this progress generally slowed, or even reversed between the mid-1970s and early 1990s. Data from the 1990s show renewed gains, but in many cases large disparities persist.

The relative economic status of Hispanics has generally declined over the past 25 years. However, the Hispanic population has grown rapidly, more than doubling in size between 1980 and 1997, in large part because of immigration. These Hispanic immigrants have lower average levels of education and income, which has contributed to the decline in average Hispanic social and economic well-being. The evolution of well-being among the children and grandchildren of these immigrants will be important in determining the future social and economic status of Hispanics.

Asian and Pacific Islanders are nearly as well-off as non-Hispanic whites, according to many indicators. There is great diversity within this population , however, and some subpopulations are quite disadvantaged. For instance, Asians have both a higher median income and a higher poverty rate than non-Hispanic whites, illustrating the economic diversity of the Asian population.

American Indians are among the most disadvantaged Americans according to many available indicators, such as poverty rates and median income, although comparable data for this group are sparse due to their small representation in the population.

The book is divided into seven sections, one for each topical area. Each section begins with a brief introduction and an overview of the charts presented in that section. The appendix provides a list of other government publications and internet addresses where the reader can find more information on the topics covered in this book.

The Race Initiative Advisory Board Issues Final Recommendations to

President Clinton

September 18, 1998

In the report, "One America in the 21st Century: Forging a New Future," members of the Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race share with the President their views and observations on what they saw and heard about race and its impact upon communities throughout the country. The Board report offers recommendations on specific steps that should be taken to eliminate racial disparities experienced by people of color. The report describes fully the scope of the Board's experiences, including the places they traveled and the countless number of Americans they have engaged on issues of race and racial reconciliation.

The report is not a conclusive analysis of the state of race relations in America today. Such a report would not be possible in a year's time in light of the broad mandate and multiple objectives of this effort. Rather this report is an account of the Advisory Board's experiences and impressions. It attempts to frame the challenges, identify the opportunities and recommend action.

I. The Mandate:

President Clinton asked the Advisory Board to spend the year advising and assisting him in accomplishing the following goals:

Board members, individually and in teams, held hundreds of meetings involving thousands of people in every region of the country. In these discussions, Board members heard that although many Americans want honest and constructive racial dialogue, it is difficult to achieve. Most people are uncomfortable talking about the emotionally charged issue of race, or are ill-equipped with the knowledge and understanding of the issue, or are tired of constantly talking about race without seeing concrete results that reduce disparities.

Board members discuss in the report their successful effort to recruit committed leaders and to identify community efforts (promising practices) to improve race relations and bridge the racial divide in the 21st century.

II. Policy Recommendations to Close the Opportunity Gap

During the Initiative year, the Advisory Board made policy and programmatic recommendations to the President following each of its formal meetings on specific issue areas. Academic experts, practitioners, and community leaders provided research findings, other relevant data, and their perspectives on civil rights, education and employment opportunity, crime and the administration of justice, housing, health, race and poverty, racial stereotypes and the immigrant experience in America.

Priority was given to recommendations on strengthening the areas of civil rights enforcement, education and economic opportunity. In keeping with this emphasis, the Advisory Board recommended, among other ideas, the following:

     a substantial increase in the civil rights enforcement budget for 
     FY 1999 because discrimination on the basis of race, color and
     ethnicity continues to be a fact of life in America and the
     budgets of federal civil rights enforcement agencies have not kept 
     pace with their increasing responsibility;

     efforts to enhance early childhood learning; strengthen teacher
     preparation and equity; promote school construction; strengthen 
     the pipeline from K-12 to and through higher education; promote 
     the benefits of diversity in K-12 and higher education; and 
     provide education and skills training to overcome increasing 
     income inequality;

     exploring ways to reduce income disparities; support supplements 
     for Small Business Administration programs; use the current 
     economic boom to improve and provide necessary job training, and 
     evaluate the effectiveness of federal anti-poverty programs.

III. Educating the Nation about Race in America

The most challenging part of the Board's mandate has been to advise the President on how to meet the goal of educating the nation about race and increasing the nation's understanding of our recent history of race relations.

Many tangible examples of racial progress exist but discriminatory treatment still persists. A key part of the education challenge surrounding race is helping people of all races to understand that racial attitudes may be exhibited in both conscious and unconscious ways. These attitudes persist because we are still affected by the myths, stereotypes and superstitions that are associated with our long history of racial discrimination.

IV. Next steps

A year's effort is not sufficient to ensure that the vision of one America in the 21st century is realized. The effort of the Initiative this past year has laid the foundation to move in the right direction however, the Initiative's work must be institutionalized. The Advisory Board recommends that the President include the following elements in his blueprint building for One America:

A Multi-Media Public Education Campaign to keep Americans informed about race and highlight the value of our nation's racial diversity.

A Call to Action to national and community Leaders to guide state and local community efforts aimed at bridging racial divides.

A continued focus on youth as America's greatest hope for realizing the goal of one America where we value our diversity and embrace our common values.

A Council for One America: a permanent structure to continue the work of the President's Initiative on Race.