In 1953, Don Barksdale became the first African-American named to the National Basketball Association All-Star team. That same year, Leontyne Price’s performance of “Summertime” at a Metropolitan Opera gala made her the first African-American to sing with the famed New York company. It was also the year that James Baldwin published Go Tell It on the Mountain.
But while progress was underway, African-Americans’ opportunities for economic and professional mobility were extremely limited. That reality was reflected in the vast wealth disparity between black and white households. In 1953, the net worth of the typical black household was just 20% of that of the typical white household, according to a recent working paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis that offers an unusually long-term look at the evolution of America’s racial gap in household finances.
Today, there are many more high-profile examples of African-Americans receiving widespread acclaim in politics, the arts, business, sports, and beyond. But the success of those individuals isn’t representative of the economic status of African-Americans as a whole. By 2013, the wealth of the median black family in the US had fallen to a mere 10% that of its white counterpart. Put another way, in 1953, four-fifths of white families made more than the typical black household. Now, closer to nine-tenths do.
SOURCE: Gwynn Guilford