Black Clergy Stand Up to Fight for Black Men and Marriage

Black Clergy Stand Up to Fight for Black Men and Marriage

A group of ministers and nonprofits are attempting to get more Black men interested in marriage and raising children. Can this new strategy for an old problem work?

Published April 27, 2011

In yet another vow of solidarity with struggling Black men around America, a group of pastors has decided to band together to confront problems in the young, African-American male community. In the past few weeks we’ve seen programs devoted to Black men launched in Philadelphia and Ohio, but this new one, Call to Action, is national, and its specific goals are keeping Black families together.

Sponsored by 10 interdenominational ministers in partnership with the National Fatherhood Initiative and the National Center of African-American Marriages and Parenting, Call to Action will seek to encourage Black men to be interested in marriage and fatherhood, both of which escape many in the Black community, which struggles disproportionately with unwed mothers.

In 1970, 70 percent of Blacks between the ages of 20 and 54 were married. Today, that statistic has fallen to just 40 percent (among all Americans, that number is 60 percent). Beyond that, nowadays, nearly two-thirds of Black children are born into homes without a father, whereas just one-third of the general population struggles with that reality. This matters, especially because studies have shown that children raised without fathers tend to have more emotional issues than their two-parent counterparts. Those emotional issues end up leading to antisocial criminal behavior, anger management issues, poor ability to pay attention in school and dangerous sexual proclivities, which in turn lead to more pregnant teenagers without husbands—and the cycle continues.

To head that off at the pass, Call to Action leaders hope they can change the hearts and minds of young Black men, who often skirt the responsibility of raising a child. "It is no coincidence that while the state of the Black family has declined, the state of the Black community—in terms of poverty, incarceration, school failure, and other measures—has also deteriorated,” said Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, in a press statement. “Marriage and fatherhood must be renewed in order for these problems to be reversed.”

The Call to Action, which has already been signed by pastors from Missouri to Washington to Virginia, calls on other African-American men of the cloth to attack the dearth of Black marriage with five strategies: acknowledging and attempting to beat the barriers to promoting marriage and fatherhood in the church; being a voice and a guide for what say is God's plan for marriage, fathers and families; advocating for strong marriages; helping and encouraging men to be the fathers their children need; and enlisting and guiding the community in strengthening marriages, fathers and families.

With religion being a huge part of the African-American community’s strength, this is perhaps a good strategy for helping the Black community find its footing in the fight for stable families. The real problem, however, lies in the fact that many African-American men are still struggling to get educations, employment and money. Without those necessities to build a foundation for a real family, it seems unlikely that a delegation of clergy can have a deep impact on this issue.

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson

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