Speeches of Robert F. Kennedy
01:19:16 - 01:22:00
Robert Kennedy answering at question about education and employment at Columbia University, 1964. MS RFK speaking, "Let me just say for instance there is 26 percent of the young Negroes in the City of New York who are out of school and out of work. The Negro child going to many of the schools in Harlem between the third grade and the sixth grade loses 10 points on his I.Q. By the time he gets to the eighth grade, he is already two years behind white students. The drop-out rate amongst Negroes in some of these areas where their schooling is not as good as in white areas, the drop-out rate sometimes goes up to 75 or 80 percent. I think, therefore, we have to have a major effort in the field of education. The education effort must start with children who are three years old and four years old because many of these children come from broken homes. They come from parents who are illiterate. They never hear an intelligent conversation at home. They never have anyone read them a book. So by the time even that they start in first grade, they are cultural deprived. I think that s what we tried to do in Harnew act effort here in the city of New York focusing attention on the fact that these children, even at that young age, need attention and need help. Then if they re bringing homework back at the second or third grade and nobody is there to make them do their homework. Now I ve seen my own children and if you don t make them do their homework, they won t do their homework. If nobody knows how to read in their home, a third to a half of the homes these children come from are broken homes and a high percentage of their one parent that stays with them is illiterate. So they are never going to get any homework done, nobodies going to. So I think we have to set up special efforts to make that there s places for them to study because the housing is insufficient, overcrowded, substandard and I think that we have to have special counselors. And I think we have to make a special effort for reading, to make sure that they continue reading because that s the key. Then I think we also have to do more as far as employment, we have almost 500,000 people who are unemployed here in the state of New York, twice as many percentage wise Negroes are unemployed as whites, some areas in the state of New York it goes up to 3 and 3 times as many. I think, therefore, what we can do as far as bringing new jobs and keeping industry here in the state is going to be terribly important. We re going to have to find here in the city of New York alone, 650,000 new jobs by 1970, we re going to have to find a million jobs in the state of New York by 1970. Where they re going to come from. We re going to have employment for those who are educated and those who are trained but those who are illiterate and uneducated, they re the ones who are going to have difficulty so that s where I think we have to make the effort." (Applause).