As a group, black Americans have made the greatest gains — over some of the highest hurdles and in a very short span of time — of any racial group in mankind's history. What's the evidence? If one totaled up the earnings of black Americans and considered us as a separate nation with our own gross domestic product, we would rank among the 20 richest nations. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, who once headed the world's mightiest military. Black Americans are among the world's most famous personalities, and a few are among the world's richest people.
The significance of these and other achievements is that at the end of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed such progress would be possible in a little over a century — if ever. As such, it speaks to the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as importantly, it speaks to the greatness of a nation in which such gains were possible. Nowhere else on the face of the earth would such progress be possible except in the United States of America. The big and thorny issue that confronts our nation is how these gains can be extended to the one-third or more of the black population for whom they have proved elusive.
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