TUESDAY, JAN 15, 2013
Checking in on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream, with Data
Martin Luther King Jr. was the legendary civil rights leader whose strong calls to end racial segregation and discrimination were central to many of the victories of the Civil Rights movement. Every January, the United States celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor the activist who made so many strides towards equality.Social Explorer takes a look at the demographics of the legendary activist’s hometown then and now to see how it has (and has not) changed. King was born in 1929, so we will examine Census data from 1930, 1940, and the latest Census and American Community Survey data. His boyhood home is now a historic site, situated at 450 Auburn Avenue Northeast, in Fulton County (part of Atlanta). In 1930, Fulton County had a population of 318,587 residents. A little over two thirds of the population was white (68.1 percent) and almost one third of the population was African American (31.9 percent). Today, the 920,581-member population split is nearly even at 44.5 percent white and 44.1 percent African American, according to 2010 Census data. Fulton's population is more African American than the United States as a whole (12.6 percent), but not as as much as Atlanta (54.0 percent). A closer look at 1940s Census data of the Atlanta area offers more detail about where the black and white populations lived. The following map shows the distribution of the black population in the Atlanta of King’s youth. Plainly, African Americans lived together, largely apart from whites.
African American Population in Fulton County, GA, and Surroundings, 1940 (click map to explore)
African American Population in Fulton County, GA, and Surroundings, 2010 (click map to explore)I Have a Dream" speech of 1963: But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. The quest for equal rights and freedoms made up part of a larger vision. In 1967, he spoke of aspiring for full equality at a speech at the Victory Baptist Church in Los Angeles: Our struggle in the first phase was a struggle for decency. Now we are in the phase where there is a struggle for genuine equality. This is much more difficult. We aren’t merely struggling to integrate the lunch counter now. We're struggling to get some money to be able to buy a hamburger or a steak when we get to the counter... He went on to say that this would require a commitment of not only political initiative but also money, "It didn't cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters. It didn't cost the nation one penny to guarantee the right to vote. The problems that we are facing today will cost the nation billions of dollars." In 1968, King and other activists launched the Poor People's Campaign, advocating for economic justice to address these imbalances in opportunity and resources. A few months later, he was assassinated. We can look at different socioeconomic indicators to measure the country’s progress towards equality. According to 1940 Census data, more than a third (36.5 percent) of housing units in Fulton County where whites lived were owner occupied, compared to less than a seventh (14.0 percent) of the housing units where African Americans lived. Today, home ownership increased for both groups, but the gap remains. Two thirds (66.6 percent) of white households are owner-occupied, compared to two fifths (41.7 percent) of all black households.
Home Ownership Comparison in Fulton, GA, by Racemapping and reporting tools to investigate dreams, freedoms, and equality further.