Black History Month 2020
The Political Director of The Arizona Democratic Party, Quiana Dickenson issued the following statement in observance of Black History Month
“We built this.” This was a common start of any number of stories about the good old days. Growing up I heard stories of proud African-Americans, some veterans, nurses, businessmen and women, electricians and teachers telling their children and grandchildren about their contributions to the country we call home with promises of “we do all this work so your generation can have a better life”. I have vivid memories of my father proudly telling the tale of our family and the contributions they made.
“As a granddaughter of sharecroppers, domestics, auto workers and postal carriers, I understand that the history of African Americans is a part of everything we do. But as we reflect this month on our past, it is important that we look to the future and recognize the obstacles that stand in the way of African American prosperity in this great state.
“Most Arizonans would be shocked to learn that, on average, Arizona has had higher infant mortality rates among African Americans than the national rates from 2006 to 2014. A systemic failure of our health care system has solidified that African American women are more likely than any other race to give birth to premature babies. This is the leading cause of infant death for that population. And if that were not devastating enough, African American babies are more likely than any other race to die before their first birthday.
“Another issue is foster care. Arizona has consistently had an over-representation of African American children in our foster care system. This is due in part because low-income African-American parents often lack the resources needed to help them support their children, such as access to decent child care.
“African-Americans still lag other populations in Arizona on a number of economic fronts. The 9 percent unemployment rate of 2017 was almost twice the state average while black incomes were lower and poverty rates were higher.
“A 2018 report found that between the years 2000 and 2016, African American men were disproportionately imprisoned. In 2016 alone they represented 14 percent of Arizona’s prison population while African Americans accounted for only 4 percent of the state’s population.
“These are just some of the colossal issues facing the African American community in our state and they represent a direct threat to African Americans’ long-term prosperity.
“But we have made some progress. Arizona has elected several African Americans to higher office, many of them Democrats, which has ensured that the voices of this important demographic are heard. As an African American woman, I am proud to stand with Arizona Democrats as we work to honor the legacy of so many that came before us.
“Our party is committed to making sure that African American Arizonans have the opportunity to succeed, to achieve the American dream, that they have accessible, affordable health care, and that they are treated fairly under the law.
“Shirley Chisholm’s words still ring true today – “We are, and always will be the catalyst for change.” Arizona Democrats will be the leaders of that change. We will work today and we will work tomorrow to ensure a bright future for Arizona. We certainly have a long way to go, but I know that our best days are ahead of us.”