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Annual DuBois Institute Forum Tackles Black Joblessness

This past Thursday, Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute convened its annual Hutchins Forum on Martha’s Vineyard that featured a panel of economists and other experts exploring the joblessness crisis in the African-American community. Among those joining moderator Charlayne Hunter-Gault were Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the director of the Du Bois Institute and editor-in-chief; Dr. Roland G. Fryer Jr., a Harvard University economist; and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. reported that more than 200 people, including scholars and celebrities, attended the forum at the Old Whaling Church in the Edgartown section of the Martha’s Vineyard island.

Harvard’s Fryer focused his attention of the state of education for Black and Latino children.

“We are absolutely wasting away our most precious resource, which is our children K-12,” said Roland Fryer, according to “There is not a city in America where more than 25 percent of Black and Hispanic [eighth-graders] can read or do math at grade level. To me, that’s an absolute crisis.”

“Now that work has changed and there’s a premium on skills, and we’re leaving our most disadvantaged and vulnerable kids behind, you see the [achievement] gaps,” Fryer also said, explaining that it’s important to focus on closing the education achievement gap by the time students make it to the eighth grade. “If you compare [White and Black] 40-year-olds who had the same test scores when they were in eighth grade, the income differences fall from 33 percent to about 1 percent. The differences in unemployment go from about 200 percent difference to about 90 percent … If you do one thing, it would be to figure out how to equalize those eighth-grade test scores.”

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