Hundreds Turn Out for Research Forum

Hundreds Turn Out for Research Forum

Moynihan Revisited: Assessing Changes in the African American Families over the Past Five Decades 

In 1965, the U.S. Department of Labor released a report entitled, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” authored by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The controversial report linked the relatively low-levels of nuclear families in the black community to high levels of poverty and argued that progress against poverty required strengthening families especially Black Men.

Almost five decades after the release of the Moynihan Report, the Urban Institute, in collaboration with Fathers Incorporated and sponsored by the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement, is hosting a forum to assess the current state of black families and how they compare to families of other race and ethnic groups. Scholars and policy makers will also discuss the role fathers can play in improving the circumstances of black children as well as the policy pathways that await national action.

An analysis of national data indicates that little progress has been made on the key issues Moynihan identified. Further, many of the issues he identified for black families are now prevalent among other families.  For example:

  • In 1960, about one if five black children were born to unwed mothers as compared to about one in fifty white children. By 2010, non-marital births skyrocketed so that almost three out every four black children and one out of every two white children are born outside of marriage.
  • The share of children living in households without their biological fathers more than doubled for blacks, whites, and Hispanics between 1960 and 2010, but the gaps between groups remain large:  53 percent of black children, 31 percent of Hispanic children, and 20 percent of white children lived in mother-only families in 2010.
  • Although child poverty rates have fallen since the 1960s, the rates are much higher for black and Hispanic children than for whites. Almost two out five black children and one out of three Hispanic children were poor in 2010 as compared with about one out of eight white children.

Since the Moynihan report was released, another major social trend has put further strains on black families—the mass incarceration of black men.  By 2010, about one out of every six black men had spent some time in prison as compared with about one out of thirty three white men.

To learn more about the Moynihan Report, the current state of black families, and prospects for the future, watch our webcast live at:

The Moynihan Report Forum – 2013 Revisited Speaker Biographies

Michelle Alexander is the New York Times best-selling author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. She is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar who currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Professor Alexander was an Associate Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics. The New Jim Crow won the NAACP Image Award for “outstanding literary work of non-fiction” and has been featured on national radio and television media outlets.

Gregory Acs is the Director of the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center. Previously, he served as Unit Chief for Labor and Income Security in the Congressional Budget Office’s Health and Human Resources Division. His research focuses on issues of social insurance, social welfare, and the compensation of workers. He has conducted several studies focusing on low-wage workers, their jobs, and their prospects for wage growth and advancement, as well as extensive studies of how women fare when they leave welfare and the factors influencing entry and exit from welfare programs. Dr. Acs has a PhD in economics and social work from the University of Michigan.

Kenneth Braswell is the Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated, a not-for-profit organization that serves as a leader in the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood and Mentoring. Fathers Incorporated focuses on remedying the impact of father absence through the use of innovative social marketing and multi-media platforms, traditional communications, and product development. Mr. Braswell is also a national motivational speaker, the author of When The Tear Won’t Fall: One Man’s Journey Through the Intimate Struggles of Manhood and Fatherhood, and launched The Black Bar, a social commentary site focused on the issue of Black Men. From 2006-2011, Mr. Braswell was the Director of the New York State Fatherhood Initiative, where he managed over $11 million in programs, a $1 million comprehensive evaluation and the NYS Noncustodial Earned Income Tax Credit. He has received numerous awards and recognition since he began his community service in 1990.

Helen Mitchell, MPA, is the Director of Strategic Planning & Policy Development for the Honorable Danny K. Davis (IL-07) and senior policy advisor for the Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government, domestic policy, small business and budgetary and appropriation matters. She manages Rep. Davis’ highest priorities including criminal justice, re-entry, employment, fatherhood and drug abuse and prevention. Ms. Mitchell played a vital role in managing and coordinating a group of over 200 organizations in the passage and continued appropriation of the Second Chance Act, and bridged bipartisan support among members of the Committee on Ways and Means in the 112th Congress that resulted in an increase in DHHS’s Responsible Fatherhood continued appropriation for 2011 grant by $25 million (50%) while improving relations among key fatherhood and healthy marriage community stakeholders.

Janks Morton is the founder of iYAGO Entertainment Group, LLC, a multimedia production company, and of Men To Boys, Inc, a national non-profit organization with a mission of reconnecting fathers to sons and mentors to mentees. His critically acclaimed documentary What Black Men Think presents a searing examination of the role that myths, stereotypes and misrepresentations have played in the decimation of modern era black relationships. Mr. Morton also recently directed and produced Hoodwinked, an examination of imagery, statistics and data that too often presents a skewed perspective of the modern era African American experience. Mr. Morton has been in the entertainment industry for more than 20 years and is a much sought-after teacher, lecturer, commentator, and motivational speaker.

Jeffrey K. Shears is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work, Director of the BSW program, and the Director of the Social Work Research Consortium at UNC-Charlotte. Dr. Shears’ research interests include fathers’ contributions in early childhood development, the disproportionate incarceration of African-American juvenile delinquent males, HIV and AIDS among African-American men, and quantitative research methods with an emphasis on data sharing among social service agencies. He holds a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Denver.

Margaret C. Simms is an Institute fellow at the Urban Institute and director of the Institute’s Low-Income Working Families project since 2007. A nationally recognized expert on the economic well-being of African Americans, her current work focuses on low-income families, with an emphasis on employment and asset building. Simms has also edited many books and monographs, including Job Creation Prospects and Strategies (with Wilhelmina Leigh), Economic Perspectives on Affirmative Action, and Slipping Through the Cracks: The Status of Black Women (with Julianne Malveaux).

Simms spent 21 years (1986-2007) with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in a number of leadership positions.