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Black reps push for change on stark disparities

Posted at 8:53 PM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 20:53:38-05

CINCINNATI -- African American leaders in Cincinnati and all over Ohio are demanding change after a report detailed wide disparities in wealth, health and justice between black and white residents.

Those findings came in  "The State of Black Cincinnati 2015: Two Cities," released in late August by the Greater Cincinnati Urban League.

Among the findings:

  • Of the nearly 14,000 families living in poverty in the city of Cincinnati between 2005 and 2009, 76 percent were black.
     
  • An "unconscionable" 74 percent of the city of Cincinnati's black children under the age of six live in poverty.
     
  • In the city of Cincinnati, black men die 10 years sooner than white men, on average. Black women die more than six years sooner than white women, on average.
     
  • The difference is even more dramatic for black infants. In Cincinnati, 12.6 black babies per 1,000 live births die before their first birthdays. That's more than double the infant mortality rate of 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births for white babies. In Hamilton County, the infant mortality rate is 18.4 deaths per 1,000 live births for black babies, compared to a rate of 5.5 for white babies.
     
  • The overall unemployment rate in Cincinnati has fallen to 4.3 percent, but it remains 19 percent for black residents.
     
  • And Cincinnati has far fewer minority-owned businesses than its peer cities. Cincinnati has 6.9 minority-owned businesses per 1,000 residents. Austin, Texas, has 22.2 per 1,000 residents. And Raleigh, N.C., has 18.8 per 1,000 residents.

State Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, returned to the Urban League headquarters in Avondale along with her statehouse colleagues to talk about the ongoing challenges faced by the African American community.

The last time the Greater Cincinnati Urban League released a report like this was in 1995. This new report notes that much progress has been made over the past 20 years locally, especially in the area of police-community relations. But, the report states, these statistics and others show there is still much work to be done.

"We have the facts," Reece said. "It's not emotional. We have the numbers, whether it's the state of black Cincinnati or the state of black Ohio. But the question is, what are we going to do about it?"

Monday night's town hall is part of a statewide tour. State Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, and  Rep. Christie Kuhns, D-Cincinnati, joined Reece, along with their colleagues from Columbus, Akron and Cleveland.

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WCPO's Lucy May contributed to this report.