Today, we’re launching E Pluribus Unum with the release of a groundbreaking report on race and class in the South that outlines how we are Divided by Design. Our team travelled across the American South unearthing the roots of our divides, the ghosts of the past, and the human experience that binds us all. We’ve gone to 28 communities across 13 southern states in rural areas and urban ones, in growing metropolitan areas and hallowed out main streets. Over 800 people shared their life stories with us. And we completed a survey of 1,800 southern residents on issues related to race and class.
Learn what they had to say here: unumfund.org/report.
This morning at 10:00 a.m. CT, we’ll be hosting an event in New Orleans to highlight our findings and discuss the pathway to building a more inclusive South for us all.
If we dare to be truthful with ourselves, we must admit that we have yet to fully reckon with race. As a result, generation after generation of black Americans were treated as second-class citizens, subjected to Jim Crow laws and widespread de facto segregation. Today, inequities continue in neighborhoods, housing, schools, healthcare, voting precincts, public transit, banks, and at every step of the criminal justice system.
We were, and in many ways remain, divided by design.
And if we do not reckon soon with our past, we face a future of even greater fissures and failures. In the South, given our role in the slave trade, given the backlash to Reconstruction, given the lasting effects of Jim Crow, given our inability to fully release the stranglehold of the past, we have a special obligation to tackle the issue of race head on — as a step toward bringing people together.
Our research suggests there is a path toward a more prosperous future for all groups across the South, but it will require serious efforts to expose each group to the lived experiences of others in their own communities.
Our team is currently building a series of programs and initiatives to cultivate courageous leaders who are committed to realizing an inclusive vision for a new South, champion transformative policies to reverse the enduring harms of America’s Jim Crow era past for those who continue to experience them today, and change narratives that perpetuate systemic and interpersonal racism in order to shift people’s attitudes and behaviors.
Through this work, our hopes are that in the national public discourse and conversations in our communities, issues of race and class will be discussed in more nuanced and thoughtful ways that do not exacerbate social divides but rather build common ground. That leaders, at all levels, will set new, ambitious priorities and enact substantial changes in policy to redesign institutions and support more equitable communities. And that all people will have a deeper understanding of systemic racism and the ways in which they can act on issues of racial and economic equity every day.
Please take the time to watch the video below that captures our journey thus far.
And please visit our interactive website to learn more city by city and insight by insight.
We look forward to having you along for the ride as this journey continues