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Published: Friday, 5/26/2006

Civil rights struggle not finished, reporter says

Progress in civil rights has to be understood in context, Juan Williams, a senior correspondent for National Public Radio, said yesterday during a taping of The Editors television program.

If you're an African-American, many issues remain on the table - from high dropout rates and high rates of single, teen women giving birth to high infant mortality rates.

"Some people are reluctant because if you say you've come a long way, it might indicate that the struggle's over [and] everything's fine," said Mr. Williams, who has reported and written extensively about civil rights.

Mr. Williams added that he uses his own father as a measure.

"I just don't think my father would have the opportunity to be a senior correspondent for NPR," Mr. Williams said. "It's a different world in terms of the levels of opportunities."

Mr. Williams said all indicators show a widening economic gap, based largely on education, with black and Hispanic children seeming to get the least valuable education.

He also spoke about immigration - "the issue of our age," he said - President Bush, national security, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said our image of women as leaders is in transition and discussed the prospects of a Hillary Clinton vs. Condoleezza Rice race for president in 2008. Celebrity surrounds each, and "they're larger-than-life characters in America," he said. "Either of their lives could be movies."

Mr. Williams was questioned by Thomas Walton, vice president and editor of The Blade.

The Editors will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.

Mr. Williams, who also is a political analyst for Fox News, was in Toledo to speak at the annual dinner last night of Neighborhood Properties Inc. held at the Medical University of Ohio.

Neighborhoods Properties offers supportive housing for people with mental illness.

At the dinner, the group was to present community awards to Lura Lovell and Norma Wanucha and, posthumously, Gertrude Winters.

Their efforts evolved into NAMI of Greater Toledo, which focuses on support for families of people with mental illness, and the Thomas M. Wernert Center, which serves people with mental illness.

Neighborhoods Properties also recognized Kim Jensen, vice president of the group's tenant association, and Jim Kanary, a Neighborhood Properties repairman.

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