Slavery in the 21st Century

Local history experts say many of the problems affecting African Americans today can be traced back to the days of slavery. They point to feelings of inferiority, the absence of a level playing field and statistics such as black males are four times more likely to be incarcerated than white males.

Monday we focused on those disparities. Tuesday we look at ways to break the cycle.

When it comes to achieving equality, local experts in African American history aren't about pointing fingers or finding blame. They're about taking action.

Author of Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery, Na'im Akbar says blacks should remember the past but embrace progress and push for change, but what about white people, white people who are tired of feeling guilty? What is their role in breaking the cycle?

“I believe it is the responsibility of well meaning white people to say to their uncle, or grandfather. This is sick, this is insane, this is inconsistent to the values we hold true,” says Dr. Akbar.

Visiting FAMU professor Dr. Cantor Brown says bottom line, the nation owes a great debt to African Americans.

“And yet I'm afraid just the opposite happens. White people tend to think they owe us a great debt, and that's not true,” Dr. Brown says.

Akbar, Brown and distinguished professor of history Larry Rivers agree education is the key. Rivers says the implementation of Black History Month has helped educate thousands about the struggles and contributions of blacks, yet he hopes the special designation isn't a long-term solution.

Sending the message is not about special treatment, but being treated fairly.