What would Black History Month be without some fun facts from the U.S. Census Bureau?
Of course, famous black historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926 established Negro History Week in February. It was to coincide with the birthday of abolitionist, newspaper editor and famous orator Frederick Douglass as well as the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who has been called the great emancipator for his role in leading the North to victory in the Civil War, resulting in the end of slavery in the United States. Negro History Week became Black History Month in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial.
The United States’ 45 million African Americans make up 14 percent of the total American population of 316 million people. The black population is expected to grow to 74.5 million by July 1, 2060. African Americans then are expected to constitute 17.9 percent of the U.S. total population.
In 2013, there were 2.2 million black military veterans in the United States. The census notes that 83.7 percent of African Americans age 25 and older had at least a high school diploma that year.
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Close to 2 million blacks age 25 and older had an advanced degree, and 3 million blacks were enrolled as undergraduates in college in 2013 compared with 2.6 million in 2008. That’s a 17.5 percent increase.
On civic participation, 17.8 million blacks voted in the 2012 presidential election (thank you, President Barack Obama for inspiring people to go to the polls). The 66.2 percent of registered black voters who cast ballots in that election exceeded the 64.1 percent of registered white voters who went to the polls.
It was the first time that blacks voted at a higher rate in this country than whites since the census began keeping such data. Keep in mind that for most of this country’s history it was illegal for black people to vote in the United States.
Other census Black History Month information isn’t so wonderful. The annual median income of black households in 2013 was $34,598 compared with $51,939 for the nation.
The poverty rate for African Americans was 27.2 percent in 2013 compared with 14.5 percent for the country. The census reports that 84.1 percent of African Americans in 2013 were covered by health insurance compared with 86.6 percent for the country.
Twenty-eight percent of blacks age 16 and older worked in civilian management, business, science and art occupations compared with 36.3 percent for the total civilian employed population. There were 9.8 million black family households, and 45.7 percent of those households in 2013 consisted of married couples.
The census reports that 1.3 million black grandparents lived with their grandchildren younger than 18 in 2013 — 45.2 percent were also responsible for their own care.