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How far is Ohio from Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream?

New President and CEO Eddie Koen stands outside the Urban League of Greater Southwest Ohio main office in the Avondale neighborhood of Cincinnati on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.

Nearly 53 years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Ohio is far from his dream.

Health data reveals a worse outcome for Black residents, even after accounting for class and poverty. Black women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The average life expectancy for Black people is four years lower than the rest of the U.S. population, according to the CDC. 

In Cincinnati, Black men die sooner than white men, and in some neighborhoods, the difference is 20 years. 

To celebrate King, whose "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 highlighted a hope for equality in America, The Enquirer analyzed the status of his dream in Ohio.

Renee Mahaffey Harris, the president and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap, photographed at Eden Park's Overlook area on January 15, 2021.

'We have not moved the needle in health disparities'

Health disparities exist in many ways.

A person's well-being is affected by where they live, access to fresh groceries, access to a quality education, environmental conditions and other socioeconomic factors better known as social determinants of health.

"The data shows that we have not moved the needle in health disparities," said Renee Mahaffey Harris, President and CEO of Center for Closing the Health Gap. "As we come upon the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (which was Jan. 15), we haven't even begun to scratch the surface on the issues that he advocated for while alive.


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