The Negro Still is Not Free

Although the Emancipation Proclamation (and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution) ended legal slavery, many African Americans still found themselves lacking basic rights and freedoms. In his book Why We Can’t Wait (1963), King went into more detail about the obstacles many black Americans faced: 91% of Black children in the South still had to attend inferior, segregated schools; millions of Black southerners were denied their right to vote; and blatant racial discrimination, such as “Jim Crow” laws, stopped Black people from gaining access to good jobs, eating at the same restaurants as white people, living in the same neighborhoods, staying in the same hotels, or even drinking at the same water fountains. Poverty and racial discrimination were linked, keeping Black Americans from exercising the same freedoms as other Americans.