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For 40 years the National Urban League has documented the great divide between the social and economic prosperity of white and black Americans. And for 40 years the story has remained much the same, said Marc Morial, the league's president and CEO.

Black people continue to trail white residents in every category the league tracks, presenting "a persistent racial disparity in American life," that might as well equate to a reversal of fortune for strides toward equality made after the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, he said.

"The similarities of the United States of 1976 and the United States of 2016 are profoundly striking," Morial said. "We are now, as we were then, a nation struggling to overcome the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. All gears have been thrown into reverse."

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