In 2006, Tavis Smiley—along with a team of esteemed contributors—laid out a national plan of action to address the ten most crucial issues facing African Americans. The Covenant, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller, ran the gamut from health care to criminal justice, affordable housing to education, voting rights to racial divides. But a decade later, Black men still fall to police bullets and brutality, Black women still die from preventable diseases, Black children still struggle to get a high quality education, the digital divide and environmental inequality persist, and American cities from Ferguson to Baltimore burn with frustration. In short, the last decade has seen the evaporation of Black wealth, with Black fellow citizens having lost ground in nearly every leading economic category.
And so in these pages Smiley calls for a renewal of The Covenant, presenting the original action plan alongside new data from the Indiana University School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) to underscore missed opportunities and the work that remains to be done. While life for far too many African Americans remains a struggle, the great freedom fighter Frederick Douglass was right: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Now is the time to finally convert the trials and tribulations of Black America into the progress that all of America yearns for.