USA Today’s DeWayne Wickham
tackles three “myths” of black history. Two are the familiar arguments
about whether Lincoln freed the slaves and whether slavery was the
cause of the Civil War. The third is not so much history as
four-year-old campaign trail folklore: “There are more black men in
prison than in college.”

Wickham notes that nearly all of the
635,198 black men in colleges and universities are between the ages of
18 and 24, compared to 189,200 black men in the same age range serving
in prison. So it is more accurate to say, as Wickham does:

There are more than three times as many college-age black men
attending higher education institutions than are locked up in this
nation’s jails and prisons.

It would be better if this ratio were even higher, as it seems to be
in North Carolina using some quick estimates, but it is not the
hopeless statistic that Jesse Jackson and others claim.