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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2006
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Professor says young in U.S. charitable, less take on justice issues

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

Studies show that young Americans are trying to live up to the legacy of the World War II generation, considered the country's greatest generation by many, a University of Alabama professor told the Decatur Kiwanis Club.

Stephen Black, director and senior lecturer of the university's Initiative for Ethics and Social Responsibility, told the club Tuesday at Decatur County Club that young Americans ages 15 to 25 are willing to volunteer and get involved in charitable efforts.

'Exceptional generation'

"This is an incredible, exceptional generation," said Black, introduced by Daily Editor and Publisher Barrett C. Shelton Jr.

While this generation is "unbelievably good at charity," Black said it doesn't have a justice sensibility or want to get involved in policy or leadership.

The generation will admit that 9 million children not having health care insurance is a problem, but he said they're not willing to try to solve the problem.

"People are participating less and less in organizations like PTA, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Rotary and Kiwanis," Black said.

Black said the problem is that more and more Americans are moving to the suburbs for the better schools and safer streets and living with neighbors who are just like them. But then they don't learn to understand those who are different from themselves.

"It's harder to be a good citizen and be compassionate when you have no idea what it's like to walk in their shoes," Black said.

He said churches are following their members to the suburbs and moving away from justice issues like civil rights and suffrage toward more charitable issues.

'Owe human beings'

Black said people "owe human beings" their involvement in justice-based causes like education and health care.

Black is the grandson of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

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