Harrisburg, PA – Feb. 28, 2023 – Today, Senator Art Haywood announced the release of his first State of Black Pennsylvania report. The report details the changing position of Black Pennsylvanians from 2010 to 2021, with several data points indicating the upward socioeconomic mobility of the Black community.
“In the past decade the black middle class expanded, black poverty declined, black high earners increased significantly, and black state incarceration dropped sharply,” said Senator Haywood. “These and other surprises are contained in this special report prepared by the Senate Democratic Policy and Research Office for Black History Month. After centuries of enslavement, almost 100 years of segregation and continued discrimination this report highlights Black History Month achievements in Pennsylvania.”
Several lawmakers joined Senator Haywood to announce the release of the report including Senator Vincent Hughes, Senator Sharif Street, and Representative Donna Bullock. They collectively applauded the data and noted the report can be used as a resource to craft legislation and develop policy that further supports and betters the lives of the Black community.
“We now have foundational data that can lead us forward in this moment of incredible opportunity,” said Senator Vincent Hughes. “Pennsylvania is currently sitting on a growing budget surplus. We should seize the moment. We should embrace the opportunity to make an even bigger difference for African Americans. This report shows progress, but let’s keep fighting, let’s keep pushing.”
The 28-page report examines health, incarceration, income, and population data for Black Pennsylvanians. The data was pulled from a number of sources to put together a complete picture of the Black experience in PA over the past decade.
“This report makes me hopeful, especially when we look at the declining numbers of state incarceration. But there is more work to do,” said Senator Street. “We need to focus on medical parole and other measures that can make our criminal justice system truly just. We can make even greater strides for Black people across Pennsylvania.”
“What this report tells us is that when we advance policies and legislation to improve the lives of Pennsylvania, if those policies are applied fairly across the board, Black folks will benefit,” said Representative Donna Bullock. “But what this report also tells us is that we still have more work to do. The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus endorses this report and looks forward to working with Sen. Haywood and our other members in the Senate to advance legislation that is informed by the report and by the experiences of our constituents. Legislation that is anti-racist and data-driven.”
Franklin Allen, President of NAACP Greater Harrisburg, and Nelson Polite, President of African American Historical Society of South Central PA, also joined the press conference to discuss the collective effort that needs to occur in Pennsylvania and America to achieve even more equality, wealth, and opportunities for African Americans.
A full video of the press conference is available online.
A full copy of the report is available on Senator Haywood’s website.