Leaders, public discuss ‘State of Black Winston-Salem’

Photos by Alphonso Abbott Jr.- James Perry speaks

Leaders, public discuss ‘State of Black Winston-Salem’
July 27
05:00 2017

One week after The Chronicle unveiled the findings in the “State of Black Winston-Salem” report compiled by local Urban League CEO James Perry, the organization’s Young Professionals branch invited the community to sit down to discuss the final report and find ways to move blacks in the area forward.

The article, “Urban League: W-S Blacks lags,” printed in the July 13 edition of The Chronicle examines the report that shows how black residents compare to white residents in several categories; including education, health and wellness, and economic and asset indices.

Blacks in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County earn 62 cents for each dollar made by white residents. Blacks have a homeownership rate that is half that of whites, and blacks are half as likely to have access to healthy foods.

In the local schools, black third-graders are 60 percent less likely to read at grade level and the reading scores for black high school students in the area isn’t much better.

Black residents have a death rate 1.25 times that of white residents and account for 48 percent of all traffic arrests, although they only make up less than 35 percent of the total population. 

After briefly discussing the data outside the Urban League’s Quality of Life Center on Thursday, July 20, Perry, sat down with local NAACP President Rev. Alvin Carlisle and more than 50 members from the community to discuss solutions to the problems plaguing the African-American community. Perry said, “The first thing we want you to do is be active. If it’s not one of these organizations, then find another one, but get active because we need your support. It’s going to take this entire community to turn things around.”

In the final version of the “State of Black Winston-Salem” report, Perry listed action steps that elected officials, organizations, and philanthropist should take to improve lives in this community. Perry said the Urban League will continue the conversation using the report as a guide.

“In each one of these categories we’re already working and we’re going to be working going forward. As we take these actions steps, we’re going to rely on these data points to find solutions to the problems in our community,” he said. “Help us to take the next steps.”

Several community members, including many educators who made suggestions to improve the local school system, kept the conversation going for over an hour. 

Carlisle discussed several initiatives he has led with the NAACP and the Minsters’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) to fight some of the issues listed in the report. Earlier this month, Carlisle and hundreds of others against the GOP health plan staged a protest outside the local office of Sen. Richard Burr. In his closing remarks, Carlisle also encouraged residents to join the fight.

He said, “Find like-minded people like yourself and grow from there. Wherever you have a passion, network with people around you who believe in the same thing as you and get going. If you hold it down for our people in one area and somebody else is holding it down for our people in another area, then that’s where the call to action stems from.”

Following the discussion, N.C. Rep. Evelyn Terry applauded the Urban League for its work in the community. She echoed Perry and Carlisle’s statements that it will take a group effort to make a difference.

“It is important that we have these conversations,” she said. “It gives me great joy to see our people out having meaning conversations on how to build for the future. Conversations like this are exactly what ignited the Civil Rights Movement.”

The full 29-page State of Black Winston-Salem report and the list of action steps can be downloaded from the Winston-Salem Urban League (WSUL) official website at

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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