In response to the official release yesterday of the Urban League's 2007 "State of Black Philadelphia" report, a couple of hundred Philadelphians packed a meeting room at the Loews Hotel to listen to a panel discuss the report and its bleak findings.

The report found that the quality of life for black Philadelphians, configured as a "Philadelphia Equality Index," measures up to only 72 percent of that of whites.

It noted a huge disparity in such areas as economic opportunity, educational attainment, employment and health for African-Americans.

Significantly, it also noted that blacks make up the largest racial/ethnic group in the city, at 44 percent of the population.

Whites, at 42 percent, are the second-largest group.

But Wharton School economics professor Bernard Anderson said he believes African-Americans actually represent nearly 50 percent of the population.

"I began my career at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and I know that when the Census Bureau does its counting, it misses a lot of us," Anderson said.

"You can't have half of the population groveling in poverty and still be a vibrant, growing city," he said.

Also on the panel were Philadelphia School Reform Commission Chairwoman Sandra Dungee Glenn, who said city students not only need more help to be prepared to get into college but also help "to stay there" once enrolled.

Sarah Lomax-Reese, host of the HealthQuest Live radio program on WURD 900-AM, urged African-Americans to learn about good nutrition and prevention of disease.

"We don't have to live with the chronic illnesses, amputations and dialysis machines," Lomax-Reese said.

Speakers at a luncheon following the symposium included National Urban League President Marc Morial and Mayor Street, who joked about being mayor "for 31 more days."

The 2007 report was the first "State of Black Philadelphia" report since 1997, officials said.

To obtain copies, contact the Urban League at 215-561-6070 or info@urbanleaguephila.org. *