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Phoenix Forward magazine

How has life changed for black Americans?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination along racial, ethnic and religious lines, and crippled unfair voting registration mandates and racial segregation in schools and public places. Some historians consider it a key achievement of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists of the time.

“[Americans] have a rich history that we should be proud of. A history of progress,” says Everette Freeman, president of the Community College of Denver and a member of the University of Phoenix board of directors. “Enormous courage was required [during the civil rights movement]. Most who stepped forward to help the cause were young people — these were not some superhuman beings. They said, ‘Let’s fix a wrong,’” notes Freeman, who holds a doctorate in education.

In honor of King’s birthday this month and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, here’s a look at how life has changed for black Americans by the numbers, based on a U.S. Census special report, studies and news stories:

Black History Month