In 2006, Tavis Smiley teamed up with other leaders in the Black community to create a national plan of action to address the ten most crucial issues facing African Americans. The Covenant with Black America, 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 still 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.
So Smiley calls for a renewal of The Covenant, presenting in this new edition the original action plan—with a new foreword and conclusion—alongside fresh 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.”