The Future of Fatherhood and Families in African American Communities

By Franklin, Robert Michael | Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

The Future of Fatherhood and Families in African American Communities


Franklin, Robert Michael, Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy


THE UNANSWERED CALL

In the fall of 1998, a historic conference, sponsored by the Morehouse Research Institute at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, almost succeeded in placing the issue of father absence on the national agenda. Morehouse is the only all-male, historically Black college in the United States, and it happens to be the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This bastion of African American male achievement was the perfect venue for a conference designed to examine issues pertaining to the future of marriage and parenthood in Black communities. In contrast to other conferences on the topic, whose proceedings slumber between the covers of academic journals, the conference organizers, Obie Clayton (from Morehouse), Ronald Mincy (of the Ford Foundation, now Columbia University), and David Blankenhorn (of the Institute for American Values), decided to produce a thirty-page, user-friendly report directed at a broad audience: "Turning the Corner on Father Absence in Black America" (Clayton et al. 1999). Three things made this conference and the resulting report both promising and remarkable. First was the comprehensive way in which they defined the issues. The proceedings were informed by a variety of disciplines and brought together historical, global, and grassroots perspectives. Second was the diversity of their fifty signatories, including an impressive variety of academic disciplines, sectors, institutions, political persuasions, and ethnic-racial identities. And third was the audacity of their proposed ten-year strategic agenda in advocating specific policy ideas, expenditures, and collaborative public and private action aimed at reversing father absence.

"Turning the Corner on Father Absence in Black America" issues a "call to action" to fathers, churches, civil rights organizations, and the public sector to prioritize this issue for the next ten years. The wide-angled analysis of the section "Why Fathers Matter" identifies various economic, cultural, and wisely places the American family crisis within the context of global trends. The report finds that by fault of strident individualism and a weakened sense of obligation to the family, "fathers the world over, rich and poor alike, are increasingly disengaging from their children and from the mothers of their children" (Clayton et al. 1999, 9). The section "Spiritual Dimensions of Father Absence in Black America," invokes African notions of the sacredness of being a father (creator) and remembers the history of Black religion's success in empowering Blacks to overcome oppression. The report concludes with ten recommendations for collaborative and self-empowering activity designed to reverse this crisis.

By way of providing a sense of the tone of the report and beginning to frame the state of the conversation, I include several brief passages here:

  "We gathered together because of our shared concern about the
  national trend of father absence that is affecting nearly all races
  and ethnic groups in the United States, and because of our particular
  concern about father absence in the African American community"
  (Clayton et al. 1999, 4).

  "We gathered together because we believe that among the most urgent
  problems facing the African American community, and the entire
  nation, is the reality that 70 percent of African American children
  are born to unmarried mothers, and that at least 80 percent of all
  African American children can now expect to spend at least a
  significant part of their childhood years living apart from their
  fathers" (Clayton et al. 1999, 4).

  "Although we differ on the relative weight to be given to economic,
  cultural, and private and public policy factors in shaping the lives
  of African American fathers, we agree that each of these factors is
  at work, and that comprehensive strategies are needed to confront the
  crisis of father absence in the African American community" (Clayton
  et al. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Future of Fatherhood and Families in African American Communities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.