In 1965 Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan published a report entitled: The Negro Family: The Case For National Action. The report later became known at the Moynihan Report. By most accounts, it is probably the most poignant collection of statistical analysis, combined with social commentary in the last 45 years; not because of what it reveal; but because of how close it has come to the truth.
In the report Senator Moynihan described the state of African American families. His point of view took great measure to frame the argument with the realities of current events; to include the civil rights movement, racism and poverty. In President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 State of the Union message he said, “For a century we labored to establish a unity of purpose and interest among the many groups which make up the American Community. That struggle has often brought pain and violence. It is not yet over”. It was a turbulent time in 1965 filled with diverging, often conflicting and contradicting thought on what America should do about the Negro (African American).
The Moynihan report said it another way; “Being Americans (negroes), they will now expect that in the near future equal opportunities for them as a group will produce roughly equal results, as compared with other groups. This is not going to happen. Nor will it happen for generations to come unless a new and special effort is made.”
As it is today, the aforementioned research is just one area of concern for African American families. It was a concern in 1965, still in 1994 and with of critical concern in 2011.
The report notes that the issue of generations to come would be that of the Black Family. Few can argue that there is no greater concern for our nation than to address these lingering issues of family development for African American families. However with that need, there is one seemingly more pressing; that of the African American Man.
For the past 45 years these statistics have driven us to provide services and support for mothers and their children. As an unconscious; some may say, conscience result; the father has been invisible in both the cause and the solution. We believe that the Moynihan Report must be revisited with an eye towards looking at systematic social change for the African American male.
In 2006 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted $150 Million to organizations to provide services in the areas of Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage initiatives. In the past five years much work has been done nationally to address these issues.
Much of this work; understanding social work with respect to working with low-income fathers, navigating the social climate of emotions regarding public dollars spent on men and untangling the complex realities of policies that work against working with this population of Black Men; has been achieved with no less than an unyielding struggle.
Thus there is an urgent need to address the issue of black men as described in the Moynihan Report and countless others since.
The work ahead will call for four concurrent bodies of focus:
- Analysis – To understand in depth what the Moynihan Report revealed about the state of the African American family based on what we know today.
- Assessment – To chronicle the events, social paradigms and policy that has occurred between 1965 – 2010
- Solution – Provide comprehensive recommendations on a broad course of action by government, communities, families and individuals.
- Reporting – Document and analyze the prescribed process and desired outcomes
Through the project partners, the work has already begun to take place. The Open Society Foundation currently has penetrated work occurring across the nation in the area of Black Male Achievement. More directly and concentrated in Milwaukee, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Jackson, Chicago, New Orleans and New York. These several cities provide an opportunity to use an existing infrastructure of organizations, programs and resources. Each of these sites was in some way apart of the statistical analysis of the Moynihan Report. In fact much of the initial emphasis for the report is derived from the “Youth in the Ghetto” report produced by the Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc.
In May and June, the Urban Institute and Fathers Incorporated hosted 3 preparedness grant seminars for nearly 100 organizations in New Orleans, Atlanta and Milwaukee. The objective of the seminars was to describe the HHS Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage federal funding opportunity, summarize various successful models, and provide working sessions that help participant’s draft proposal outlines and determine next steps to completing a proposal. In addition; organizations:
- Learned to build the right collaborations for the strongest grant potential
- Learned to understand the intersecting systems of Child Support, Employment, Community Re-Entry, Domestic Violence, Parenting Curriculums; etc.
- Learned to match their desired work to obtainable and meaningful outcomes
The organizational infrastructure currently exists in these three cities as well as the others. As a result the difficulty in establishing working relationships with organizations, communities and individuals needed to conduct the proposed work is lessen.
One Year Outcomes
- White Paper describing the comparative research of the Moynihan Report and current realities
- Conduct a findings forum of the Moynihan Report.
- Conduct community interviews with scholars, community people and historians.
- Begin the first draft of the completed “book” version of “The Moynihan Report: Revisited”