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The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies
City Journal ^ | Summer, 2005 | Kay S. Hymowitz

Posted on 07/25/2005 4:34:39 PM PDT by StoneGiant

 

The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies


Kay S. Hymowitz
Summer 2005

 

Read through the megazillion words on class, income mobility, and poverty in the recent New York Times series “Class Matters” and you still won’t grasp two of the most basic truths on the subject: 1. entrenched, multigenerational poverty is largely black; and 2. it is intricately intertwined with the collapse of the nuclear family in the inner city.

By now, these facts shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Almost 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Those mothers are far more likely than married mothers to be poor, even after a post-welfare-reform decline in child poverty. They are also more likely to pass that poverty on to their children. Sophisticates often try to dodge the implications of this bleak reality by shrugging that single motherhood is an inescapable fact of modern life, affecting everyone from the bobo Murphy Browns to the ghetto “baby mamas.” Not so; it is a largely low-income—and disproportionately black—phenomenon. The vast majority of higher-income women wait to have their children until they are married. The truth is that we are now a two-family nation, separate and unequal—one thriving and intact, and the other struggling, broken, and far too often African-American.

So why does the Times, like so many who rail against inequality, fall silent on the relation between poverty and single-parent families? To answer that question—and to continue the confrontation with facts that Americans still prefer not to mention in polite company—you have to go back exactly 40 years. That was when a resounding cry of outrage echoed throughout Washington and the civil rights movement in reaction to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Department of Labor report warning that the ghetto family was in disarray. Entitled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” the prophetic report prompted civil rights leaders, academics, politicians, and pundits to make a momentous—and, as time has shown, tragically wrong—decision about how to frame the national discussion about poverty.

To go back to the political and social moment before the battle broke out over the Moynihan report is to return to a time before the country’s discussion of black poverty had hardened into fixed orthodoxies—before phrases like “blaming the victim,” “self-esteem,” “out-of-wedlock childbearing” (the term at the time was “illegitimacy”), and even “teen pregnancy” had become current. While solving the black poverty problem seemed an immense political challenge, as a conceptual matter it didn’t seem like rocket science. Most analysts assumed that once the nation removed discriminatory legal barriers and expanded employment opportunities, blacks would advance, just as poor immigrants had.

Conditions for testing that proposition looked good. Between the 1954 Brown decision and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legal racism had been dismantled. And the economy was humming along; in the first five years of the sixties, the economy generated 7 million jobs.

Yet those most familiar with what was called “the Negro problem” were getting nervous. About half of all blacks had moved into the middle class by the mid-sixties, but now progress seemed to be stalling. The rise in black income relative to that of whites, steady throughout the fifties, was sputtering to a halt. More blacks were out of work in 1964 than in 1954. Most alarming, after rioting in Harlem and Paterson, New Jersey, in 1964, the problems of the northern ghettos suddenly seemed more intractable than those of the George Wallace South.

Moynihan, then assistant secretary of labor and one of a new class of government social scientists, was among the worriers, as he puzzled over his charts. One in particular caught his eye. Instead of rates of black male unemployment and welfare enrollment running parallel as they always had, in 1962 they started to diverge in a way that would come to be called “Moynihan’s scissors.” In the past, policymakers had assumed that if the male heads of household had jobs, women and children would be provided for. This no longer seemed true. Even while more black men—though still “catastrophically” low numbers—were getting jobs, more black women were joining the welfare rolls. Moynihan and his aides decided that a serious analysis was in order.

Convinced that “the Negro revolution . . . , a movement for equality as well as for liberty,” was now at risk, Moynihan wanted to make several arguments in his report. The first was empirical and would quickly become indisputable: single-parent families were on the rise in the ghetto. But other points were more speculative and sparked a partisan dispute that has lasted to this day. Moynihan argued that the rise in single-mother families was not due to a lack of jobs but rather to a destructive vein in ghetto culture that could be traced back to slavery and Jim Crow discrimination. Though black sociologist E. Franklin Frazier had already introduced the idea in the 1930s, Moynihan’s argument defied conventional social-science wisdom. As he wrote later, “The work began in the most orthodox setting, the U.S. Department of Labor, to establish at some level of statistical conciseness what ‘everyone knew’: that economic conditions determine social conditions. Whereupon, it turned out that what everyone knew was evidently not so.”

But Moynihan went much further than merely overthrowing familiar explanations about the cause of poverty. He also described, through pages of disquieting charts and graphs, the emergence of a “tangle of pathology,” including delinquency, joblessness, school failure, crime, and fatherlessness that characterized ghetto—or what would come to be called underclass—behavior. Moynihan may have borrowed the term “pathology” from Kenneth Clark’s The Dark Ghetto, also published that year. But as both a descendant and a scholar of what he called “the wild Irish slums”—he had written a chapter on the poor Irish in the classic Beyond the Melting Pot—the assistant secretary of labor was no stranger to ghetto self-destruction. He knew the dangers it posed to “the basic socializing unit” of the family. And he suspected that the risks were magnified in the case of blacks, since their “matriarchal” family had the effect of abandoning men, leaving them adrift and “alienated.”

More than most social scientists, Moynihan, steeped in history and anthropology, understood what families do. They “shape their children’s character and ability,” he wrote. “By and large, adult conduct in society is learned as a child.” What children learned in the “disorganized home[s]” of the ghetto, as he described through his forest of graphs, was that adults do not finish school, get jobs, or, in the case of men, take care of their children or obey the law. Marriage, on the other hand, provides a “stable home” for children to learn common virtues. Implicit in Moynihan’s analysis was that marriage orients men and women toward the future, asking them not just to commit to each other but to plan, to earn, to save, and to devote themselves to advancing their children’s prospects. Single mothers in the ghetto, on the other hand, tended to drift into pregnancy, often more than once and by more than one man, and to float through the chaos around them. Such mothers are unlikely to “shape their children’s character and ability” in ways that lead to upward mobility. Separate and unequal families, in other words, meant that blacks would have their liberty, but that they would be strangers to equality. Hence Moynihan’s conclusion: “a national effort towards the problems of Negro Americans must be directed towards the question of family structure.”

Astonishingly, even for that surprising time, the Johnson administration agreed. Prompted by Moynihan’s still-unpublished study, Johnson delivered a speech at the Howard University commencement that called for “the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights.” The president began his speech with the era’s conventional civil rights language, condemning inequality and calling for more funding of medical care, training, and education for Negroes. But he also broke into new territory, analyzing the family problem with what strikes the contemporary ear as shocking candor. He announced: “Negro poverty is not white poverty.” He described “the breakdown of the Negro family structure,” which he said was “the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice and present prejudice.” “When the family collapses, it is the children that are usually damaged,” Johnson continued. “When it happens on a massive scale, the community itself is crippled.”

Johnson was to call this his “greatest civil rights speech,” but he was just about the only one to see it that way. By that summer, the Moynihan report that was its inspiration was under attack from all sides. Civil servants in the “permanent government” at Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) and at the Children’s Bureau muttered about the report’s “subtle racism.” Academics picked apart its statistics. Black leaders like Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) director Floyd McKissick scolded that, rather than the family, “[i]t’s the damn system that needs changing.”

In part, the hostility was an accident of timing. Just days after the report was leaked to Newsweek in early August, L.A.’s Watts ghetto exploded. The televised images of the South Central Los Angeles rioters burning down their own neighborhood collided in the public mind with the contents of the report. Some concluded that the “tangle of pathology” was the administration’s explanation for urban riots, a view quite at odds with civil rights leaders’ determination to portray the violence as an outpouring of black despair over white injustice. Moreover, given the fresh wounds of segregation, the persistent brutality against blacks, and the ugly tenaciousness of racism, the fear of white backsliding and the sense of injured pride that one can hear in so many of Moynihan’s critics are entirely understandable.

Less forgivable was the refusal to grapple seriously—either at the time or in the months, years, even decades to come—with the basic cultural insight contained in the report: that ghetto families were at risk of raising generations of children unable to seize the opportunity that the civil rights movement had opened up for them. Instead, critics changed the subject, accusing Moynihan—wrongfully, as any honest reading of “The Negro Family” proves—of ignoring joblessness and discrimination. Family instability is a “peripheral issue,” warned Whitney Young, executive director of the National Urban League. “The problem is discrimination.” The protest generating the most buzz came from William Ryan, a CORE activist, in “Savage Discovery: The Moynihan Report,” published in The Nation and later reprinted in the NAACP’s official publication. Ryan, though a psychologist, did not hear Moynihan’s point that as the family goes, so go the children. He heard code for the archaic charge of black licentiousness. He described the report as a “highly sophomoric treatment of illegitimacy” and insisted that whites’ broader access to abortion, contraception, and adoption hid the fact that they were no less “promiscuous” than blacks. Most memorably, he accused Moynihan of “blaming the victim,” a phrase that would become the title of his 1971 book and the fear-inducing censor of future plain speaking about the ghetto’s decay.

That Ryan’s phrase turned out to have more cultural staying power than anything in the Moynihan report is a tragic emblem of the course of the subsequent discussion about the ghetto family. For white liberals and the black establishment, poverty became a zero-sum game: either you believed, as they did, that there was a defect in the system, or you believed that there was a defect in the individual. It was as if critiquing the family meant that you supported inferior schools, even that you were a racist. Though “The Negro Family” had been a masterpiece of complex analysis that implied that individuals were intricately entwined in a variety of systems—familial, cultural, and economic—it gave birth to a hardened, either/or politics from which the country has barely recovered.

By autumn, when a White House conference on civil rights took place, the Moynihan report, initially planned as its centerpiece, had been disappeared. Johnson himself, having just introduced large numbers of ground troops into Vietnam, went mum on the subject, steering clear of the word “family” in the next State of the Union message. This was a moment when the nation had the resources, the leadership (the president had been overwhelmingly elected, and he had the largest majorities in the House and Senate since the New Deal), and the will “to make a total . . . commitment to the cause of Negro equality,” Moynihan lamented in a 1967 postmortem of his report in Commentary. Instead, he declared, the nation had disastrously decided to punt on Johnson’s “next and more profound stage in the battle for civil rights.” “The issue of the Negro family was dead.”

Well, not exactly. Over the next 15 years, the black family question actually became a growth industry inside academe, the foundations, and the government. But it wasn’t the same family that had worried Moynihan and that in the real world continued to self-destruct at unprecedented rates. Scholars invented a fantasy family—strong and healthy, a poor man’s Brady Bunch—whose function was not to reflect truth but to soothe injured black self-esteem and to bolster the emerging feminist critique of male privilege, bourgeois individualism, and the nuclear family. The literature of this period was so evasive, so implausible, so far removed from what was really unfolding in the ghetto, that if you didn’t know better, you might conclude that people actually wanted to keep the black family separate and unequal.

Consider one of the first books out of the gate, Black Families in White America, by Andrew Billingsley, published in 1968 and still referred to as “seminal.” “Unlike Moynihan and others, we do not view the Negro as a causal nexus in a ‘tangle of pathologies’ which feeds on itself,” he declared. “[The Negro family] is, in our view, an absorbing, adaptive, and amazingly resilient mechanism for the socialization of its children and the civilization of its society.” Pay no attention to the 25 percent of poor ghetto families, Billingsley urged. Think instead about the 75 percent of black middle-class families—though Moynihan had made a special point of exempting them from his report.

Other black pride–inspired scholars looked at female-headed families and declared them authentically African and therefore a good thing. In a related vein, Carol Stack published All Our Kin, a 1974 HEW-funded study of families in a midwestern ghetto with many multigenerational female households. In an implicit criticism of American individualism, Stack depicted “The Flats,” as she dubbed her setting, as a vibrant and cooperative urban village, where mutual aid—including from sons, brothers, and uncles, who provided financial support and strong role models for children—created “a tenacious, active, lifelong network.”

In fact, some scholars continued, maybe the nuclear family was really just a toxic white hang-up, anyway. No one asked what nuclear families did, or how they prepared children for a modern economy. The important point was simply that they were not black. “One must question the validity of the white middle-class lifestyle from its very foundation because it has already proven itself to be decadent and unworthy of emulation,” wrote Joyce Ladner (who later became the first female president of Howard University) in her 1972 book Tomorrow’s Tomorrow. Robert Hill of the Urban League, who published The Strengths of Black Families that same year, claimed to have uncovered science that proved Ladner’s point: “Research studies have revealed that many one-parent families are more intact or cohesive than many two-parent families: data on child abuse, battered wives and runaway children indicate higher rates among two-parent families in suburban areas than one-parent families in inner city communities.” That science, needless to say, was as reliable as a deadbeat dad.

Feminists, similarly fixated on overturning the “oppressive ideal of the nuclear family,” also welcomed this dubious scholarship. Convinced that marriage was the main arena of male privilege, feminists projected onto the struggling single mother an image of the “strong black woman” who had always had to work and who was “superior in terms of [her] ability to function healthily in the world,” as Toni Morrison put it. The lucky black single mother could also enjoy more equal relationships with men than her miserably married white sisters.

If black pride made it hard to grapple with the increasingly separate and unequal family, feminism made it impossible. Fretting about single-parent families was now not only racist but also sexist, an effort to deny women their independence, their sexuality, or both. As for the poverty of single mothers, that was simply more proof of patriarchal oppression. In 1978, University of Wisconsin researcher Diana Pearce introduced the useful term “feminization of poverty.” But for her and her many allies, the problem was not the crumbling of the nuclear family; it was the lack of government support for single women and the failure of business to pay women their due.

With the benefit of embarrassed hindsight, academics today someTimes try to wave away these notions as the justifiably angry, but ultimately harmless, speculations of political and academic activists. “The depth and influence of the radicalism of the late 1960s and early 1970s are often exaggerated,” historian Stephanie Coontz writes in her new book, Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. This is pure revisionism. The radical delegitimation of the family was so pervasive that even people at the center of power joined in. It made no difference that so many of these cheerleaders for single mothers had themselves spent their lives in traditional families and probably would rather have cut off an arm than seen their own unmarried daughters pushing strollers.

Take, for instance, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who wrote a concurring assent in the 1977 Moore v. City of East Cleveland decision. The case concerned a woman and her grandson evicted from a housing project following a city ordinance that defined “family” as parents—or parent—and their own children. Brennan did not simply agree that the court should rule in favor of the grandmother—a perfectly reasonable position. He also assured the court that “the extended family has many strengths not shared by the nuclear family.” Relying on Robert Hill’s “science,” he declared that delinquency, addiction, crime, “neurotic disabilities,” and mental illness were more prevalent in societies where “autonomous nuclear families prevail,” a conclusion that would have bewildered the writers of the Constitution that Brennan was supposedly interpreting.

In its bumbling way and with far-reaching political consequences, the executive branch also offered warm greetings to the single-parent family. Alert to growing apprehension about the state of the American family during his 1976 presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter had promised a conference on the subject. Clearly less concerned with conditions in the ghetto than with satisfying feminist advocates, the administration named a black single (divorced) mother to lead the event, occasioning an outcry from conservatives. By 1980, when it finally convened after numerous postponements, the White House Conference on the Family had morphed into the White House Conference on Families, to signal that all family forms were equal.

Instead of the political victory for moderate Democrats that Carter had expected, the conference galvanized religious conservatives.

Later, conservative heavyweight Paul Weyrich observed that the Carter conference marked the moment when religious activists moved in force into Republican politics. Doubtless they were also more energized by their own issues of feminism and gay rights than by what was happening in the ghetto. But their new rallying cry of “family values” nonetheless became a political dividing line, with unhappy fallout for liberals for years to come.

Meanwhile, the partisans of single motherhood got a perfect chance to test their theories, since the urban ghettos were fast turning into nuclear-family-free zones. Indeed, by 1980, 15 years after “The Negro Family,” the out-of-wedlock birthrate among blacks had more than doubled, to 56 percent. In the ghetto, that number was considerably higher, as high as 66 percent in New York City. Many experts comforted themselves by pointing out that white mothers were also beginning to forgo marriage, but the truth was that only 9 percent of white births occurred out of wedlock.

And how was the black single-parent family doing? It would be fair to say that it had not been exhibiting the strengths of kinship networks. According to numbers crunched by Moynihan and economist Paul Offner, of the black children born between 1967 and 1969, 72 percent received Aid to Families with Dependent Children before the age of 18. School dropout rates, delinquency, and crime, among the other dysfunctions that Moynihan had warned about, were rising in the cities. In short, the 15 years since the report was written had witnessed both the birth of millions of fatherless babies and the entrenchment of an underclass.

Liberal advocates had two main ways of dodging the subject of family collapse while still addressing its increasingly alarming fallout. The first, largely the creation of Marian Wright Edelman, who in 1973 founded the Children’s Defense Fund, was to talk about children not as the offspring of individual mothers and fathers responsible for rearing them, but as an oppressed class living in generic, nebulous, and never-to-be-analyzed “families.” Framing the problem of ghetto children in this way, CDF was able to mount a powerful case for a host of services, from prenatal care to day care to housing subsidies, in the name of children’s developmental needs, which did not seem to include either a stable domestic life or, for that matter, fathers. Advocates like Edelman might not have viewed the collapsing ghetto family as a welcome occurrence, but they treated it as a kind of natural event, like drought, beyond human control and judgment. As recently as a year ago, marking the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, CDF announced on its website: “In 2004 it is morally and economically indefensible that a black preschool child is three Times as likely to depend solely on a mother’s earnings.” This may strike many as a pretty good argument for addressing the prevalence of black single-mother families, but in CDF-speak it is a case for federal natural-disaster relief.

The Children’s Defense Fund was only the best-known child-advocacy group to impose a gag rule on the role of fatherless families in the plight of its putative constituents. The Carnegie Corporation followed suit. In 1977, it published a highly influential report by Kenneth Keniston called All Our Children: The American Family Under Pressure. It makes an obligatory nod toward the family’s role in raising children, before calling for a cut in unemployment, a federal job guarantee, national health insurance, affirmative action, and a host of other children’s programs. In a review in Commentary, Nathan Glazer noted ruefully that All Our Children was part of a “recent spate of books and articles on the subject of the family [that] have had little if anything to say about the black family in particular and the matter seems to have been permanently shelved.” For that silence, children’s advocates deserve much of the credit—or blame.

Whe second way not to talk about what was happening to the ghetto family was to talk instead about teen pregnancy. In 1976 the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research arm, published “Eleven Million Teenagers: What Can Be Done About the Epidemic of Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States?” It was a report that launched a thousand programs. In response to its alarms, HEW chief Joseph Califano helped push through the 1978 Adolescent Health Services and Pregnancy Prevention and Care Act, which funded groups providing services to pregnant adolescents and teen moms. Nonprofits, including the Center for Population Options (now called Advocates for Youth), climbed on the bandwagon. The Ford and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations showered dollars on organizations that ran school-based health clinics, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation set up the Too Early Childbearing Network, the Annie E. Casey Foundation sponsored “A Community Strategy for Reaching Sexually Active Adolescents,” and the Carnegie, Ford, and William T. Grant Foundations all started demonstration programs.

There was just one small problem: there was no epidemic of teen pregnancy. There was an out-of-wedlock teen-pregnancy epidemic. Teenagers had gotten pregnant at even higher rates in the past. The numbers had reached their zenith in the 1950s, and the “Eleven Million Teenagers” cited in the Guttmacher report actually represented a decline in the rate of pregnant teens. Back in the day, however, when they found out they were pregnant, girls had either gotten married or given their babies up for adoption. Not this generation. They were used to seeing children growing up without fathers, and they felt no shame about arriving at the maternity ward with no rings on their fingers, even at 15.

In the middle-class mind, however, no sane girl would want to have a baby at 15—not that experts mouthing rhetoric about the oppressive patriarchal family would admit that there was anything wrong with that. That middle-class outlook, combined with post-Moynihan mendacity about the growing disconnect between ghetto childbearing and marriage, led the policy elites to frame what was really the broad cultural problem of separate and unequal families as a simple lack-of-reproductive-services problem. Ergo, girls “at risk” must need sex education and contraceptive services.

But the truth was that underclass girls often wanted to have babies; they didn’t see it as a problem that they were young and unmarried. They did not follow the middle-class life script that read: protracted adolescence, college, first job, marriage—and only then children. They did not share the belief that children needed mature, educated mothers who would make their youngsters’ development the center of their lives. Access to birth control couldn’t change any of that.

At any rate, failing to define the problem accurately, advocates were in no position to find the solution. Teen pregnancy not only failed to go down, despite all the public attention, the tens of millions of dollars, and the birth control pills that were thrown its way. It went up—peaking in 1990 at 117 pregnancies per 1,000 teenage girls, up from 105 per 1,000 in 1978, when the Guttmacher report was published. About 80 percent of those young girls who became mothers were single, and the vast majority would be poor.

Throughout the 1980s, the inner city—and the black family—continued to unravel. Child poverty stayed close to 20 percent, hitting a high of 22.7 percent in 1993. Welfare dependency continued to rise, soaring from 2 million families in 1970 to 5 million by 1995. By 1990, 65 percent of all black children were being born to unmarried women.

In ghetto communities like Central Harlem, the number was closer to 80 percent. By this point, no one doubted that most of these children were destined to grow up poor and to pass down the legacy of single parenting to their own children.

The only good news was that the bad news was so unrelentingly bad that the usual bromides and evasions could no longer hold. Something had to shake up what amounted to an ideological paralysis, and that something came from conservatives. Three thinkers in particular—Charles Murray, Lawrence Mead, and Thomas Sowell—though they did not always write directly about the black family, effectively changed the conversation about it. First, they did not flinch from blunt language in describing the wreckage of the inner city, unafraid of the accusations of racism and victim blaming that came their way. Second, they pointed at the welfare policies of the 1960s, not racism or a lack of jobs or the legacy of slavery, as the cause of inner-city dysfunction, and in so doing they made the welfare mother the public symbol of the ghetto’s ills. (Murray in particular argued that welfare money provided a disincentive for marriage, and, while his theory may have overstated the role of economics, it’s worth noting that he was probably the first to grasp that the country was turning into a nation of separate and unequal families.) And third, they believed that the poor would have to change their behavior instead of waiting for Washington to end poverty, as liberals seemed to be saying.

By the early 1980s the media also had woken up to the ruins of the ghetto family and brought about the return of the repressed Moynihan report. Declaring Moynihan “prophetic,” Ken Auletta, in his 1982 The Underclass, proclaimed that “one cannot talk about poverty in America, or about the underclass, without talking about the weakening family structure of the poor.” Both the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times ran series on the black family in 1983, followed by a 1985 Newsweek article called “Moynihan: I Told You So” and a 1986 CBS documentary, The Vanishing Black Family, produced by Bill Moyers, a onetime aide to Lyndon Johnson, who had supported the Moynihan report. The most symbolic moment came when Moynihan himself gave Harvard’s prestigious Godkin lectures in 1985 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of “The Negro Family.”

For the most part, liberals were having none of it. They piled on Murray’s 1984 Losing Ground, ignored Mead and Sowell, and excoriated the word “underclass,” which they painted as a recycled and pseudoscientific version of the “tangle of pathology.” But there were two important exceptions to the long list of deniers. The first was William Julius Wilson. In his 1987 The Truly Disadvantaged, Wilson chastised liberals for being “confused and defensive” and failing to engage “the social pathologies of the ghetto.” “The average poor black child today appears to be in the midst of a poverty spell which will last for almost two decades,” he warned. Liberals have “to propose thoughtful explanations for the rise in inner city dislocations.” Ironically, though, Wilson’s own “mismatch theory” for family breakdown—which hypothesized that the movement of low-skill jobs out of the cities had sharply reduced the number of marriageable black men—had the effect of extending liberal defensiveness about the damaged ghetto family. After all, poor single mothers were only adapting to economic conditions. How could they do otherwise?

The research of another social scientist, Sara McLanahan, was not so easily rationalized, however. A divorced mother herself, McLanahan found Auletta’s depiction of her single-parent counterparts in the inner city disturbing, especially because, like other sociologists of the time, she had been taught that the Moynihan report was the work of a racist—or, at least, a seriously deluded man. But when she surveyed the science available on the subject, she realized that the research was so sparse that no one knew for sure how the children of single mothers were faring. Over the next decade, McLanahan analyzed whatever numbers she could find, and discovered—lo and behold—that children in single-parent homes were not doing as well as children from two-parent homes on a wide variety of measures, from income to school performance to teen pregnancy.

Throughout the late eighties and early nineties, McLanahan presented her emerging findings, over protests from feminists and the Children’s Defense Fund. Finally, in 1994 she published, with Gary Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent. McLanahan’s research shocked social scientists into re-examining the problem they had presumed was not a problem. It was a turning point. One by one, the top family researchers gradually came around, concluding that McLanahan—and perhaps even Moynihan—was right.

In fact, by the early 1990s, when the ghetto was at its nadir, public opinion had clearly turned. No one was more attuned to this shift than triangulator Bill Clinton, who made the family a centerpiece of his domestic policy.

In his 1994 State of the Union Address, he announced: “We cannot renew our country when, within a decade, more than half of our children will be born into families where there is no marriage.” And in 1996, despite howls of indignation, including from members of his own administration (and mystifyingly, from Moynihan himself), he signed a welfare-reform bill that he had twice vetoed—and that included among its goals increasing the number of children living with their two married parents.

So, have we reached the end of the Moynihan report saga? That would be vastly overstating matters. Remember: 70 percent of black children are still born to unmarried mothers. After all that ghetto dwellers have been through, why are so many people still unwilling to call this the calamity it is? Both NOW and the National Association of Social Workers continue to see marriage as a potential source of female oppression. The Children’s Defense Fund still won’t touch the subject. Hip-hop culture glamorizes ghetto life: “ ’cause nowadays it’s like a badge of honor/to be a baby mama” go the words to the current hit “Baby Mama,” which young ghetto mothers view as their anthem. Seriously complicating the issue is the push for gay marriage, which dismissed the formula “children growing up with their own married parents” as a form of discrimination. And then there is the American penchant for to-each-his-own libertarianism. In opinion polls, a substantial majority of young people say that having a child outside of marriage is okay—though, judging from their behavior, they seem to mean that it’s okay, not for them, but for other people. Middle- and upper-middle-class Americans act as if they know that marriage provides a structure that protects children’s development. If only they were willing to admit it to their fellow citizens.

All told, the nation is at a cultural inflection point that portends change. Though they always caution that “marriage is not a panacea,” social scientists almost uniformly accept the research that confirms the benefits for children growing up with their own married parents. Welfare reform and tougher child-support regulations have reinforced the message of personal responsibility for one’s children. The Bush administration unabashedly uses the word “marriage” in its welfare policies. There are even raw numbers to support the case for optimism: teen pregnancy, which finally started to decline in the mid-nineties in response to a crisper, teen-pregnancy-is-a-bad-idea cultural message, is now at its lowest rate ever.

And finally, in the ghetto itself there is a growing feeling that mother-only families don’t work. That’s why people are lining up to see an aging comedian as he voices some not-very-funny opinions about their own parenting. That’s why so many young men are vowing to be the fathers they never had. That’s why there has been an uptick, albeit small, in the number of black children living with their married parents.

If change really is in the air, it’s taken 40 years to get here—40 years of inner-city misery for the country to reach a point at which it fully signed on to the lesson of Moynihan’s report. Yes, better late than never; but you could forgive lost generations of ghetto men, women, and children if they found it cold comfort.

 


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: blackfamily; blacks; family; feminism; ghetto; moynihan; secular; thenegrofamily
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1 posted on 07/25/2005 4:34:39 PM PDT by StoneGiant
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To: StoneGiant
So why does the Times, like so many who rail against inequality, fall silent on the relation between poverty and single-parent families?

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

2 posted on 07/25/2005 4:37:27 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: StoneGiant

bttt


3 posted on 07/25/2005 4:41:39 PM PDT by Eagles6 (Dig deeper, more ammo.)
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To: StoneGiant
Lyndon and his fawning democratic serfs....

Killed the black family via the so called "great society"....

From the on, the black man was on his own and his family was back at the door of the main house (the erstwhile plantation) to get handouts necessary to live......and we all pay for this insanity

4 posted on 07/25/2005 4:43:32 PM PDT by squirt-gun
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To: StoneGiant

READ Thomas Sowells Black Rednecks and White liberals for more thought out perspective. Thomas nails a concise point on every page on this crap.


5 posted on 07/25/2005 4:52:15 PM PDT by alisasny (We get 4 more years, you get OBAMA...: ))
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: StoneGiant
Read through the megazillion words on class, income mobility...

Did someone say "mobility?" I ain't got much steenkin mobility. Oh, income mobility.

Never mind.


7 posted on 07/25/2005 4:57:02 PM PDT by rdb3 (Rollin', rollin', rollin'. Get that wheelchair rollin'...)
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To: Jerry K.

You would like Sowells tome.

Stresses the differences between Northern black and Southern Blacks in comparison to the same of Whites.

I always recall the esteemed Walter Williams trying to educate his black folk by saying " African aint no USA".

As to say appreciate what you have over the bush.


8 posted on 07/25/2005 4:57:34 PM PDT by alisasny (We get 4 more years, you get OBAMA...: ))
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To: StoneGiant
He [Johnson] described “the breakdown of the Negro family structure,” which he said was “the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice and present prejudice.”

Well, that is warm and fuzzy--and not true. If the breakdown were a necessary outcome, then Irish immigrant and Jewish people would not have the strong family structures they have.

No, one of the problems with the entire mess is premises that wrong, no matter how good they sound. Do I have the answer? Probably not. But I can damned sure get closer that Mr. Johnson did.

9 posted on 07/25/2005 4:59:17 PM PDT by jammer
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To: Eagles6

The author should have mentioned the shocking rate of illegitimate births among female military personell: in the Army the standard birth is out of wedlock...and we reward it with separate rations and housing...


10 posted on 07/25/2005 4:59:37 PM PDT by Meldrim
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To: rdb3

Hey rdb3...

'Hope those prayers for your speedy recovery are doing ya some
good.


11 posted on 07/25/2005 5:04:29 PM PDT by A. Morgan
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To: Jerry K.
I just don't believe in Africa there are any black Leave it to Beaver families, so why stress out there aren't any in the USA. It's a cultural and societal difference.

Are you really stupid enough to post the above, or just looking for confirmation from other racists?

12 posted on 07/25/2005 5:42:27 PM PDT by semaj ("....by their fruit you will know them.")
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To: jammer

Johnson also said,we pass this and the negro will vote for us for the next 200 years...Obviously,theres some validity that remark...


13 posted on 07/25/2005 5:46:53 PM PDT by fishbabe
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To: StoneGiant

So it's fair to say that the steady decline of black culture dates back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That landmark piece of society-saving legislation lauded in song and story actually turned out to be a curse on the very people it was written to save.


14 posted on 07/25/2005 5:54:21 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: IronJack
So it's fair to say that the steady decline of black culture dates back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That landmark piece of society-saving legislation lauded in song and story actually turned out to be a curse on the very people it was written to save.


Consider this a cautionary tale. The travesty imposed upon Black families by the liberal Democrats is what awaits us all unless we remain diligent.
15 posted on 07/25/2005 5:57:42 PM PDT by StoneGiant
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page marker     ^
16 posted on 07/25/2005 6:31:07 PM PDT by tomkat
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To: IronJack

Another perfect example of what government does best. Create more problems for everyone it tries to solve.


17 posted on 07/25/2005 6:41:43 PM PDT by winodog (We need to pull the fedgov.con's feeding tube)
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To: StoneGiant; T Lady

Thank you for posting -- This is a comprehensive analysis and synopsis of what happened. And it still angers me.


18 posted on 07/25/2005 6:45:19 PM PDT by Alia
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To: winodog
Another perfect example of what government does best. Create more problems for everyone it tries to solve.

It's sheer hubris to keep repeating those crimes, then defending them by claiming that the intent was pure.

19 posted on 07/25/2005 6:46:42 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: alisasny

And then check out "The Bell Curve".


20 posted on 07/25/2005 7:04:23 PM PDT by RWCon
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To: jammer
If the breakdown were a necessary outcome, then Irish immigrant and Jewish people would not have the strong family structures they have.

The experience of both the Irish and Jews is different from Blacks. The Jews have a strong religious tradition that tells them they are God's chosen people. No matter what collective or individual tragedies befall them, they are God's chosen. They know where they fit, they are part of a plan that's bigger than anything happening to them at the moment.

The Irish experienced discrimination that is common to all immigrant groups. In the end, their children speak without accents and look like us and are accepted.

Blacks were brought to America as slaves. To deprive a people of their freedom and feel good about it, their humanity was minimized. They fell some where between human and animal, legally, they were 3/5 human. Their religion was taken from them, their names were taken from them, they were removed from their families and what relationships they formed were subject to the whims and sensibilities of their masters.

They were given new names, and a new religion that taught them to be good slaves. After the "War of Northern Aggression", they were free to make it on their own without the tools necessary to do that. Many did make it and their success made them targets of those who felt the color of their skin gave them entitlement to lynch, rape, and steal. Communities were destroyed without consequence to the destroyers or aid to the displaced (check out "Black Wall Street).

All of that happened before welfare, my friend. While some still feel justified in dragging a human being to death behind a truck, others are outraged and demand justice. Blacks have been subjected to generation after generation after generation of abuse. It may take several more generations before the effects of abuse fades.

21 posted on 07/25/2005 7:16:40 PM PDT by lucysmom
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To: jammer
If the breakdown were a necessary outcome, then Irish immigrant and Jewish people would not have the strong family structures they have.

Fortunately for the Irish and Jewish waves, they managed to get themselves into the middle class before welfare arrived.

Being married is work. You have to put up with the annoying and neurotic behavior of your spouse day in and day out. If you're poor, and the welfare benefits, all added up, come out to more than a husband's take-home pay, a bunch of women are going to decide to not bother getting married

A good chunk of the uptick in marriage that's mentioned in the article is likely caused by the current limit on welfare benefit duration -- one of Clinton's few redeeming legacies. If the welfare checks stop after 5 years, you suddenly find out its good to have somebody sticking around to help pay the bills and raise the kids

22 posted on 07/25/2005 7:25:51 PM PDT by SauronOfMordor
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To: StoneGiant

Like the hundred or so similar pieces that have preceded this one, all written by objectively-positioned professional analysts, the perceived need to spread the blame around like a gang of kids with two loaves of bread and a half-jar of peanut butter allows the author to nibble on cheese and crackers while she laments what she cannot imagine.

The urban-class is starving emotionally because nobody ever comes right out and asks them to help, to make them feel needed, to be a part of the outside world, instead, the objectivists throw cake at them and taunt them to storm the barricades.


23 posted on 07/25/2005 7:52:29 PM PDT by Old Professer (As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good; innocence is blind.)
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To: rdb3
(Rollin', rollin', rollin'. Get that wheelchair rollin'...)

Good to see you back on the forum.

You got twin pipes on that wheelchair...???

24 posted on 07/25/2005 8:10:17 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: Old Professer
Like the hundred or so similar pieces that have preceded this one, all written by objectively-positioned professional analysts, the perceived need to spread the blame around like a gang of kids with two loaves of bread and a half-jar of peanut butter allows the author to nibble on cheese and crackers while she laments what she cannot imagine.

The urban-class is starving emotionally because nobody ever comes right out and asks them to help, to make them feel needed, to be a part of the outside world, instead, the objectivists throw cake at them and taunt them to storm the barricades.


Another apologist for the socialist dogma...
25 posted on 07/25/2005 8:47:25 PM PDT by StoneGiant
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To: StoneGiant
Kay S. Hymowitz's article, though rather lengthy highlights exactly what's wrong with the American Left: Their inability to deal with the reality of their failed public and social policies.

Although he was a staunchly loyal Democrat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan dared to tell the truth about President Lyndon B. Johnson's atrocious 'Great Society' program, which has spiraled completely out of control. Couple that with the NOW nonsense, and the absurdity of the Children's Defense Fund, you have a surefire recipe for disaster.

As I just mentioned on a previous thread, the Leftist Elites have been systematically destroying those they deem inferior--blacks in particular--for many years while claiming to be their champions and advocates. It truly sickens me to hear any of these people talk about 'social justice' and 'equality' when they mean just the opposite. To paraphrase what a weekend radio talk show host told his audience, just giving people money and not teaching them to fish kills the spirit.

...As far as I'm concerned, the Democrat Party and the Socialist Left have slowly and steadily been killing the black American spirit for nearly fifty years, while wearing a smile.
26 posted on 07/25/2005 10:04:58 PM PDT by T Lady (The American Left: Useful Idiots for Terrorist Regimes)
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To: StoneGiant
Johnson was to call this his “greatest civil rights speech,” ....

President Lyndon B. Johnson's

Commencement Address at Howard University: "To Fulfill These Rights"

June 4, 1965

Dr. Nabrit, my fellow Americans:

I am delighted at the chance to speak at this important and this historic institution. Howard has long been an outstanding center for the education of Negro Americans. Its students are of every race and color and they come from many countries of the world. It is truly a working example of democratic excellence.

Our earth is the home of revolution. In every corner of every continent men charged with hope contend with ancient ways in the pursuit of justice. They reach for the newest of weapons to realize the oldest of dreams, that each may walk in freedom and pride, stretching his talents, enjoying the fruits of the earth.

Our enemies may occasionally seize the day of change, but it is the banner of our revolution they take. And our own future is linked to this process of swift and turbulent change in many lands in the world. But nothing in any country touches us more profoundly, and nothing is more freighted with meaning for our own destiny than the revolution of the Negro American.

In far too many ways American Negroes have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope.

In our time change has come to this Nation, too. The American Negro, acting with impressive restraint, has peacefully protested and marched, entered the courtrooms and the seats of government, demanding a justice that has long been denied. The voice of the Negro was the call to action. But it is a tribute to America that, once aroused, the courts and the Congress, the President and most of the people, have been the allies of progress.

LEGAL PROTECTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Thus we have seen the high court of the country declare that discrimination based on race was repugnant to the Constitution, and therefore void. We have seen in 1957, and 1960, and again in 1964, the first civil rights legislation in this Nation in almost an entire century.

As majority leader of the United States Senate, I helped to guide two of these bills through the Senate. And, as your President, I was proud to sign the third. And now very soon we will have the fourth--a new law guaranteeing every American the right to vote.

No act of my entire administration will give me greater satisfaction than the day when my signature makes this bill, too, the law of this land.

The voting rights bill will be the latest, and among the most important, in a long series of victories. But this victory--as Winston Churchill said of another triumph for freedom--"is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

That beginning is freedom; and the barriers to that freedom are tumbling down. Freedom is the right to share, share fully and equally, in American society--to vote, to hold a job, to enter a public place, to go to school. It is the right to be treated in every part of our national life as a person equal in dignity and promise to all others.

FREEDOM IS NOT ENOUGH

But freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.

You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.

Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.

This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.

For the task is to give 20 million Negroes the same chance as every other American to learn and grow, to work and share in society, to develop their abilities--physical, mental and spiritual, and to pursue their individual happiness.

To this end equal opportunity is essential, but not enough, not enough. Men and women of all races are born with the same range of abilities. But ability is not just the product of birth. Ability is stretched or stunted by the family that you live with, and the neighborhood you live in--by the school you go to and the poverty or the richness of your surroundings. It is the product of a hundred unseen forces playing upon the little infant, the child, and finally the man.

PROGRESS FOR SOME

This graduating class at Howard University is witness to the indomitable determination of the Negro American to win his way in American life.

The number of Negroes in schools of higher learning has almost doubled in 15 years. The number of nonwhite professional workers has more than doubled in 10 years. The median income of Negro college women tonight exceeds that of white college women. And there are also the enormous accomplishments of distinguished individual Negroes--many of them graduates of this institution, and one of them the first lady ambassador in the history of the United States.

These are proud and impressive achievements. But they tell only the story of a growing middle class minority, steadily narrowing the gap between them and their white counterparts.

A WIDENING GULF

But for the great majority of Negro Americans-the poor, the unemployed, the uprooted, and the dispossessed--there is a much grimmer story. They still, as we meet here tonight, are another nation. Despite the court orders and the laws, despite the legislative victories and the speeches, for them the walls are rising and the gulf is widening.

Here are some of the facts of this American failure.

Thirty-five years ago the rate of unemployment for Negroes and whites was about the same. Tonight the Negro rate is twice as high.

In 1948 the 8 percent unemployment rate for Negro teenage boys was actually less than that of whites. By last year that rate had grown to 23 percent, as against 13 percent for whites unemployed.

Between 1949 and 1959, the income of Negro men relative to white men declined in every section of this country. From 1952 to 1963 the median income of Negro families compared to white actually dropped from 57 percent to 53 percent.

In the years 1955 through 1957, 22 percent of experienced Negro workers were out of work at some time during the year. In 1961 through 1963 that proportion had soared to 29 percent.

Since 1947 the number of white families living in poverty has decreased 27 percent while the number of poorer nonwhite families decreased only 3 percent.

The infant mortality of nonwhites in 1940 was 70 percent greater than whites. Twenty-two years later it was 90 percent greater.

Moreover, the isolation of Negro from white communities is increasing, rather than decreasing as Negroes crowd into the central cities and become a city within a city.

Of course Negro Americans as well as white Americans have shared in our rising national abundance. But the harsh fact of the matter is that in the battle for true equality too many--far too many--are losing ground every day.

THE CAUSES OF INEQUALITY

We are not completely sure why this is. We know the causes are complex and subtle. But we do know the two broad basic reasons. And we do know that we have to act.

First, Negroes are trapped--as many whites are trapped--in inherited, gateless poverty. They lack training and skills. They are shut in, in slums, without decent medical care. Private and public poverty combine to cripple their capacities.

We are trying to attack these evils through our poverty program, through our education program, through our medical care and our other health programs, and a dozen more of the Great Society programs that are aimed at the root causes of this poverty.

We will increase, and we will accelerate, and we will broaden this attack in years to come until this most enduring of foes finally yields to our unyielding will.

But there is a second cause--much more difficult to explain, more deeply grounded, more desperate in its force. It is the devastating heritage of long years of slavery; and a century of oppression, hatred, and injustice.

SPECIAL NATURE OF NEGRO POVERTY

For Negro poverty is not white poverty. Many of its causes and many of its cures are the same. But there are differences-deep, corrosive, obstinate differences--radiating painful roots into the community, and into the family, and the nature of the individual.

These differences are not racial differences. They are solely and simply the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice, and present prejudice. They are anguishing to observe. For the Negro they are a constant reminder of oppression. For the white they are a constant reminder of guilt. But they must be faced and they must be dealt with and they must be overcome, if we are ever to reach the time when the only difference between Negroes and whites is the color of their skin.

Nor can we find a complete answer in the experience of other American minorities. They made a valiant and a largely successful effort to emerge from poverty and prejudice.

The Negro, like these others, will have to rely mostly upon his own efforts. But he just can not do it alone. For they did not have the heritage of centuries to overcome, and they did not have a cultural tradition which had been twisted and battered by endless years of hatred and hopelessness, nor were they excluded--these others--because of race or color--a feeling whose dark intensity is matched by no other prejudice in our society.

Nor can these differences be understood as isolated infirmities. They are a seamless web. They cause each other. They result from each other. They reinforce each other.

Much of the Negro community is buried under a blanket of history and circumstance. It is not a lasting solution to lift just one corner of that blanket. We must stand on all sides and we must raise the entire cover if we are to liberate our fellow citizens.

THE ROOTS OF INJUSTICE

One of the differences is the increased concentration of Negroes in our cities. More than 73 percent of all Negroes live in urban areas compared with less than 70 percent of the whites. Most of these Negroes live in slums. Most of these Negroes live together--a separated people.

Men are shaped by their world. When it is a world of decay, ringed by an invisible wall, when escape is arduous and uncertain, and the saving pressures of a more hopeful society are unknown, it can cripple the youth and it can desolate the men.

There is also the burden that a dark skin can add to the search for a productive place in our society. Unemployment strikes most swiftly and broadly at the Negro, and this burden erodes hope. Blighted hope breeds despair. Despair brings indifferences to the learning which offers a way out. And despair, coupled with indifferences, is often the source of destructive rebellion against the fabric of society.

There is also the lacerating hurt of early collision with white hatred or prejudice, distaste or condescension. Other groups have felt similar intolerance. But success and achievement could wipe it away. They do not change the color of a man's skin. I have seen this uncomprehending pain in the eyes of the little, young Mexican-American schoolchildren that I taught many years ago. But it can be overcome. But, for many, the wounds are always open.

FAMILY BREAKDOWN

Perhaps most important--its influence radiating to every part of life--is the breakdown of the Negro family structure. For this, most of all, white America must accept responsibility. It flows from centuries of oppression and persecution of the Negro man. It flows from the long years of degradation and discrimination, which have attacked his dignity and assaulted his ability to produce for his family.

This, too, is not pleasant to look upon. But it must be faced by those whose serious intent is to improve the life of all Americans.

Only a minority--less than half--of all Negro children reach the age of 18 having lived all their lives with both of their parents. At this moment, tonight, little less than two-thirds are at home with both of their parents. Probably a majority of all Negro children receive federally-aided public assistance sometime during their childhood.

The family is the cornerstone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled.

So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together--all the rest: schools, and playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern, will never be enough to cut completely the circle of despair and deprivation.

TO FULFILL THESE RIGHTS

There is no single easy answer to all of these problems.

Jobs are part of the answer. They bring the income which permits a man to provide for his family.

Decent homes in decent surroundings and a chance to learn--an equal chance to learn--are part of the answer.

Welfare and social programs better designed to hold families together are part of the answer.

Care for the sick is part of the answer.

An understanding heart by all Americans is another big part of the answer.

And to all of these fronts--and a dozen more--I will dedicate the expanding efforts of the Johnson administration.

But there are other answers that are still to be found. Nor do we fully understand even all of the problems. Therefore, I want to announce tonight that this fall I intend to call a White House conference of scholars, and experts, and outstanding Negro leaders--men of both races--and officials of Government at every level.

This White House conference's theme and title will be "To Fulfill These Rights."

Its object will be to help the American Negro fulfill the rights which, after the long time of injustice, he is finally about to secure.

To move beyond opportunity to achievement.

To shatter forever not only the barriers of law and public practice, but the walls which bound the condition of many by the color of his skin.

To dissolve, as best we can, the antique enmities of the heart which diminish the holder, divide the great democracy, and do wrong--great wrong--to the children of God.

And I pledge you tonight that this will be a chief goal of my administration, and of my program next year, and in the years to come. And I hope, and I pray, and I believe, it will be a part of the program of all America.

WHAT IS JUSTICE

For what is justice?

It is to fulfill the fair expectations of man.

Thus, American justice is a very special thing. For, from the first, this has been a land of towering expectations. It was to be a nation where each man could be ruled by the common consent of all--enshrined in law, given life by institutions, guided by men themselves subject to its rule. And all--all of every station and origin--would be touched equally in obligation and in liberty.

Beyond the law lay the land. It was a rich land, glowing with more abundant promise than man had ever seen. Here, unlike any place yet known, all were to share the harvest.

And beyond this was the dignity of man. Each could become whatever his qualities of mind and spirit would permit--to strive, to seek, and, if he could, to find his happiness.

This is American justice. We have pursued it faithfully to the edge of our imperfections, and we have failed to find it for the American Negro.

So, it is the glorious opportunity of this generation to end the one huge wrong of the American Nation and, in so doing, to find America for ourselves, with the same immense thrill of discovery which gripped those who first began to realize that here, at last, was a home for freedom.

All it will take is for all of us to understand what this country is and what this country must become.

The Scripture promises: "I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out."

Together, and with millions more, we can light that candle of understanding in the heart of all America.

And, once lit, it will never again go out.

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:35 p.m. on the Main Quadrangle in front of the library at Howard University in Washington, after being awarded an honorary degree of doctor of laws. His opening words referred to Dr. James M. Nabrit, It., President of the University. During his remarks he referred to Mrs. Patricia Harris, U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg and former associate professor of law at Howard University.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was approved by the President on August 6, 1965.

 

Personal note: I found it interesting that Johnson's speech used the word right(s) 11 times. Thats 2 more then found in the Declaration of Independence
10 more then in the Constitution
5 more then in the Bill of Rights

27 posted on 07/25/2005 11:52:52 PM PDT by lunarbicep (I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts - Will Rogers)
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To: IronJack

So are you saying we should have never passsed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and blacks could just keep packing chicken dinners on those long trips from Chicago to Miss.?
Thats a real stretch to say that that was the beginning of the decline of the black family.
I'm out there"in the hood"everyday and you know what I think is the problem?
The young men want to be playas.The young women are out for the good life consumerist nonsense they see on TV.The men are not getting the education needed to provide aforementioned items.The females get mad and go into their"these n***** ain't you know what"routine.The young men lash at at those" bitches and skanless hos"and the whole cycle gets perpetrated each generation.No trust,no love in the ghetto,baby.
I am very fond of most of these kids.Many have wonderful hearts and a determination to succeed against all odds.Yet most will never get it together with the nuclear family paradigm.They are carrying way too much emotional pain and scars from their pasts.
Hey,I'm white as can be but I can RELATE.I haven't had a stable relationship in all my 58 years!


28 posted on 07/26/2005 12:06:21 AM PDT by Riverman94610
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To: RWCon
"READ Thomas Sowells Black Rednecks and White liberals ..."

And then check out "The Bell Curve".

The conclusions of whom Sowell seems to disagree with, btw.

29 posted on 07/26/2005 12:13:24 AM PDT by MitchellC (Foolishness isn't a mental disorder.)
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To: lucysmom
Blacks have been subjected to generation after generation after generation of abuse. It may take several more generations before the effects of abuse fades.

By and large, the only people abusing blacks in America today are other blacks. Blacks were on their way to economically matching whites in many areas last century before Liberals started giving black women an incentive not to catch a husband - thus giving black men a free pass on having to take care of his own family. IIRC, through the same period blacks had similar proportion to whites with broken families. Your argument of some kind of lingering effect of past dicrimination doesn't take into account the whites who also leech on the system - what great past abuse are they waiting to overcome before they can stop acting irresponsibly?

30 posted on 07/26/2005 12:41:13 AM PDT by MitchellC (Foolishness isn't a mental disorder.)
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To: Riverman94610
So are you saying we should have never passsed the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Yes. That's what I'm saying. The legislative "solution" has proven to be no solution at all. Black culture was not helped by the Civil Rights Act, as this article proves. In fact, that legislation could actually be credited with DESTROYING black culture, or at least the motive for improving it.

Thats a real stretch to say that that was the beginning of the decline of the black family.

This article would seem to bear out that hypothesis.

31 posted on 07/26/2005 5:05:30 AM PDT by IronJack
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To: StoneGiant

My wife's cousin has two kids with no dream of how to support them. She has a job but doesn't care if she loses it. She just assumes someone will give her money. She is also highly allergic to men with jobs and money.

I will be shocked if she doesn't have another one soon.


32 posted on 07/26/2005 5:08:45 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: lucysmom
All of that happened before welfare, my friend. While some still feel justified in dragging a human being to death behind a truck, others are outraged and demand justice. Blacks have been subjected to generation after generation after generation of abuse. It may take several more generations before the effects of abuse fades.
The article mentions Charles Murray's Losing Ground - American Social Policy, 1950-1980. I read that book when it came out in the mid-80s; you obviously have not. Murray showed that when welfare became a "right," blacks decided not to work. He showed the statistics, and they tell the tale.

That isn't racism, it is just to recognize the reality that black men were cut out of the loop by the "Great Society." What the minimum wage does is to outlaw the first rung of the economic ladder, for the people with the least ability to get a good job. Thomas Sowell will tell you that the minimum wage law was first proposed by and for white racists. Sowell himself once thought the "minimum wage" law was a good idea, but he did an economic analysis of how much good it was doing - and realized that it was pernicious.

Some other poster said that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a disaster for blacks. I won't go that far, but the rest of the "Great Society" program was. Because it was socialism, and socialism is mismanagement. The fundamental principle of management has to be that a person can only be responsible for something if he has authority over it. IOW, if the plumbing leaks, kicking the cat will not make it stop leaking because that cat had no control over it in the first place. But socialism gives the authority to the government, and the individual still has to bear the results without being in control.

I'm not an Ayn Rand fan in general, but the Atlas Shrugged principle is true in the case of the black man and the "Great Society" - the black man just disappeared. And what you have in the matriachial black family is the result. The black man doesn't support and protect the black family because the government co opted him - effectively seduced the black woman into throwing him over for the government welfare check.

And what is the consequence? Half of the black children are boys - but far too often they have no positive role model not only in their own home but even in their neighborhood, to inspire them to grow up to be providing and protecting fathers. And the other half, the girls, don't have a role model for being a mother who can select and be loyal to a man who will grow (as men do) into that role.

All very well to blame "the legacy of slavery," but that is in very important ways a half-truth. For all the travails along the generations, blacks are Americans. And the truth is that if they were given the right to sell their American citizenship to foreigners and, say, move to Africa, they would be able to afford "forty acres and a mule" - but what fool would take that deal? If the Democrats had been willing to allow the process of the 1950s to extend through the 1980s, blacks wouldn't have become - become the "underclass" which this article describes. They were not the "underclass" in 1960 that they were in 1990 for the simple reason that the black family (although "scandalously" unstable by reputation at the time) was about as solid then as the white American family is now.

If you looked at the trendlines of statistics in Losing Ground, and covered up all the data after 1960, you would predict on that basis that blacks would have essentially caught up with whites within a couple of generations - i.e., about now. But the "Great Society" prevented that from happening. The "Great Society" was in its own way a horror to be compared with slavery. It is a blot on American - and Democratic Party - history.

And while you are expanding the scope of your knowledge of the history of blacks in America, take a moment to expand your knowledge of the general history of slavery. All very well to sit comfortably in your study and pound out denumciations of slavery in other times, but throughout history (and worldwide) real people were involved not only as slaves but as slave masters.

Slaves were stolen by whoever could take them, from whoever could not prevent it, by whoever could get away with it. That started a very long time ago (see for example the book of Exodus in the Bible), and (it is true) it did not end with the advent of Christianity. It did not end with the advent of Islam. In fact, when did it end? It actually still exists in places. Christians didn't take it upon themselves to end the institution of slavery until basically the lifetime of Queen Victoria (1819-1901). Up until that era not only the Christians in particular but humanity in general had tried to avoid being slaves but had not lifted a finger to prevent strangers from being enslaved.

What happened? First, European polities coalesced into states which were powerful enough to prevent slavers from stealing citizens from their countries, at least on a commercial scale. Then - concommitant with such novelties as the Declaration of Independence - Christians began to actually question the virtue of peole who held slaves or even tolerated the holding of slaves. Only then, in all of history, do you see anyone (i.e., American Southerners) attempting to justify slavery because only then was the institution under serious attack.

There was a shift in the Christian paradigm. That didn't happen in Islam, or anywhere else. What happened was that Christians, and not anyone else, came to feel a responsibility to behave toward the slave as the Good Samaritan of the Bible behaved toward the man who "fell among thieves." The result was that Christians in general, and English-speaking people in particular, actually fought for the liberty of strangers. Certainly the southerners who fought the Union Army opposed that, and they were Christians. But they were in different circumstances than those who did not have a huge racial population with the motive to start a race war - they had a tiger by the tail, and not only had a reason to hold on but a positive dread of letting go.

Net - net, slavery was abolished in North America through the Civil War, which was over secession - but secession was over slavery. Slavery was abolished elsewhere, due more than any other Christians to the influence of the British who controlled up to a quarter of the world - and to no one other than Christians. The abolition of slavery was essentially the British equivalent of putting a man on the moon. During the Victorian era, whatever else the British had on their plate they also kept a squadron of warships off the west coast of Africa to hunt down slave ships - for no other reason than (Victorian-era) Christian scruples.

And that was just some of the highlights of Thomas Sowell's Black Rednecks and White Liberals, at a bookstore near you.


33 posted on 07/26/2005 5:10:03 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: AppyPappy

Note: She qualifies as a "black" family.


34 posted on 07/26/2005 5:14:41 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: lunarbicep; lucysmom
Freedom is not Enough . . . For the task is to give 20 million Negroes the same chance as every other American to learn and grow, to work and share in society, to develop their abilities--physical, mental and spiritual, and to pursue their individual happiness . . .
What arrogance! Freedom may not be all you think you want, but if it's the government giving it it will be a reduction of freedom.

What you need in addition to freedom is a family - people whose example convinces you that you can make something of yourself, and that it's worth the effort to do so. Can the government give you that?


35 posted on 07/26/2005 5:43:25 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: AppyPappy
Note: She qualifies as a "black" family.

What does that mean? What does one have to do to qualify as a black family, other than being black?

36 posted on 07/26/2005 5:46:46 AM PDT by LWalk18
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To: IronJack
Yes. That's what I'm saying. The legislative "solution" has proven to be no solution at all. Black culture was not helped by the Civil Rights Act, as this article proves. In fact, that legislation could actually be credited with DESTROYING black culture, or at least the motive for improving it.

So I guess having to use the bathroom in the bushes because there were no "colored" bathrooms within miles in the South was character building, huh?

37 posted on 07/26/2005 5:49:27 AM PDT by LWalk18
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
"What you need in addition to freedom is a family - people whose example convinces you that you can make something of yourself, "

it would also help if the black community did not create negative role models such as "gangsta rappers". Conservative middle class role models are few and far between. (Bill Cosby is getting old these days)

38 posted on 07/26/2005 5:57:35 AM PDT by Kelly_2000 (Because they stand on a wall and say nothing is going to hurt you tonight. Not on my watch)
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To: LWalk18

According to the state, she has black children.


39 posted on 07/26/2005 6:11:01 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: IncPen; Nailbiter; Forecaster

Excellent !!


40 posted on 07/26/2005 6:51:32 AM PDT by BartMan1 (...)
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To: IronJack

"“One must question the validity of the white middle-class lifestyle from its very foundation because it has already proven itself to be decadent and unworthy of emulation,” wrote Joyce Ladner (who later became the first female president of Howard University) in her 1972 book Tomorrow’s Tomorrow."

"actually turned out to be a curse on the very people it was written to save."

Yep, partly because of the liberally educated idiots like the one quoted above.


41 posted on 07/26/2005 7:03:08 AM PDT by antisocial (Texas SCV - Deo Vindice)
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To: kalee

self ping for later reading


42 posted on 07/26/2005 7:06:25 AM PDT by kalee
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To: StoneGiant
Consider this a cautionary tale. The travesty imposed upon Black families by the liberal Democrats is what awaits us all unless we remain diligent.

Yes, indeed. The destruction of black families and communities through 'welfare' was merely the pilot project for what amounts to a war on all American families and communities.

I suppose our betters feel that a little social dislocation is a small price to pay for the creation of a progressive and socialist America.

43 posted on 07/26/2005 7:38:22 AM PDT by headsonpikes ("The U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government.")
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To: StoneGiant

Apparently, you missed my point, giving is not asking; these people must be first made to feel like they are needed, how, I don't know. But it certainly isn't the present case where society labors more to appease the hungry crowd than to feed them what they truly need.


44 posted on 07/26/2005 9:05:40 AM PDT by Old Professer (As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good; innocence is blind.)
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To: Old Professer
Apparently, you missed my point, giving is not asking; these people must be first made to feel like they are needed, how, I don't know.

Why must people be made to feel that they are needed? Is the concept of "self actualization" foreign to you?

Moreover, why is that society's responsibility to make a person feel "needed", or "good"?

It is your kind of misguided and socialist thinking that has produced a generation of children incapable of internal motivation, and an education system where everyone graduates regardless of their level of achievement... because the alternative results in a group of people who don't feel good about themselves.

The immediate gratification / "feel good" society... a curse upon our country.
45 posted on 07/26/2005 10:05:44 AM PDT by StoneGiant
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To: StoneGiant

One cannot lead the unwilling, they may only drive them.


46 posted on 07/26/2005 10:11:52 AM PDT by Old Professer (As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good; innocence is blind.)
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: LWalk18
So I guess having to use the bathroom in the bushes because there were no "colored" bathrooms within miles in the South was character building, huh?

1) I didn't say it was "character building." But tell me how enabling generations of welfare dependency is "character building."

2) The CRA of 64 didn't eliminate segregated bathroom facilities. Brown did.

3) The legislative solution, coming as it did ahead of the moral reformation, did nothing but create a climate of distrust between the races. Worse, it advanced the notion that moral problems could be solved by well-intentioned bureaucrats.

4) If you've got a point to make, make it without the sarcasm, or expect the same in return.

48 posted on 07/26/2005 2:55:43 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: antisocial
"“One must question the validity of the white middle-class lifestyle from its very foundation because it has already proven itself to be decadent and unworthy of emulation,”

That quote could just as easily come from The Communist Manifesto.

49 posted on 07/26/2005 2:57:02 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
the black man just disappeared. And what you have in the matriachial black family is the result. The black man doesn't support and protect the black family because the government co opted him - effectively seduced the black woman into throwing him over for the government welfare check.

To assume that black women prefer a welfare check to a long term supportive, protective relationship with a man is somewhat ridiculous from my point of view as a woman (though not black). Experience indicates that it is men who have chosen to make themselves irrelevant in the lives of their children, not women.

My own white husband decided, after six and a half years of marriage, when our daughter was three, that he didn't want to be married anymore. First he met with my mother to try and convince her that his responsibilities as a father should be assumed by her and my father (needless to say his name is mud in their house) then, failing that, he told me that as a self-respecting woman, I shouldn't accept child support from him.

The issues are complex, but have nothing to do with government or welfare except that welfare inadequately fills a gap where a man refuses to step up to the plate and take responsibility for his family. Without welfare, he would be the same irresponsible man, but his children would be in worse shape.

Marriage rates have consistently been lower for blacks than whites, even before welfare. It is also interesting to note that illegitimate birth rates began to level off in the early 90s before welfare reform. Is it possible that enforcing child support requirements has made men more responsible? I think it is. Government used to be pretty indifferent to enforcing child support orders.

If you want black men, and all men for that matter, to take responsibility for their families, hold them accountable for the children they create, don't let them use government as a 'scape goat, and don't let them blame the mothers who almost always are stuck trying to pick up the slack. Don't laugh when a man answers the question, "how many children do you have?" with "(fill in the blank) that I know of".

50 posted on 07/26/2005 7:43:13 PM PDT by lucysmom
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