freeSpeech: Juan Williams

Here is some news that should be at the top of the front page everyday: 70 percent of black children are born to unmarried women.

Here's some more real news for the front page: As many as half of black children drop out of high school.

This is the scandal of modern American life.

It is bad enough that a quarter of white children and half of Hispanic children are born out of wedlock. But when 70 percent of any group of children don't have a mom and dad it is a sure fire prescription for family breakdown, educational failure, poverty and criminal behavior.

And the problem is compounded by Hip-Hop culture. All the videos feature poisonous images of black people as threatening, violent, over-sexed and dressed like pimps, strippers, gangsters and prisoners - you know, no belt and pants hanging down low. It is bad enough that these images are imprinted on white minds. But it is cruel to send young black people seeking direction the message that this is the most they can hope for in America.

Yet when I wrote this in my new book – "Enough" - I was charged with airing dirty laundry and taking attention away from the power of on-going racism. Well, it is going to be a long wait for the end of racism. That should not stop work on the big issues that threaten all Americans, but especially poor minorities: family breakdown and failing schools.

This is our civil rights struggle. We will be judged if we fail to act now. This is front page news for this generation.

Juan Williams, one of America's leading journalists, is a senior correspondent for NPR. You can read an excerpt of his book, "Enough," here.

From 2000 - 2001, Williams hosted NPR's national call-in show Talk of the Nation. In that role, he brought the program to cities and towns across America for monthly radio "town hall" meetings before live audiences.

Williams is the author of the critically acclaimed biography Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary, which was released in paperback in February 2000. He is also the author of the nonfiction bestseller Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, the companion volume to the critically acclaimed television series. This Far by Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience appeared in February 2003.

During his 21-year career at The Washington Post, Williams served as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist, and White House reporter. He has won an Emmy award for TV documentary writing and won widespread critical acclaim for a series of documentaries including "Politics - The New Black Power."