Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class

About This Episode


Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class probes the harsh and often brutal discrimination that has made it extremely difficult for African-Americans to establish a middle-class standard of living. Through dramatic historical footage and deeply moving personal interviews with prominent African Americans, including Isabel Wilkerson, Elijah Cummings, Alvin Poussaint, and Angela Glover Blackwell, Against All Odds explores the often frustrated efforts of black families to pursue the American dream.

This revealing and sometimes shocking documentary connects the dots of American history to reveal how the traditional route up the economic ladder by attaining a job that pays a living wage and then buying a house is a financial ascent that has been systematically denied to black families. Reduced educational opportunity, rampant employment discrimination, the inequitable application of the GI bill, mortgage redlining and virulent housing segregation are among the injustices that have converged to limit the prosperity of black families from generation to generation.

Yet through it all, host Bob Herbert reports, black Americans have shown time and again in the face of cruelty, systematic discrimination and injustice a tremendous resilience and determination to get their fair share of the American dream. He says, “There are no barriers that can’t be overcome. When dreams remain unrealized, it simply means the fight goes on.”