Why Is Fatherlessness Rampant in the Black Community?

volume 19, number 23, May 28, 2020

“Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.”
-Psalm 82:3

Consider these facts:
—compared with white women, black women are 25% less likely ever to have been married and about half as likely to be currently married.
—in 1998 about 29% of African American women aged fifteen and over were married with a spouse present, compared to 55% of white women and 49% of Hispanic women.
—until the 1960’s the percentages of black and white women currently married with a spouse present were virtually the same, around 66%.[1] 
—until 1960 about 95% of children in the U.S. were born to married parents. By 2008 that number has fallen to 59%.
 —36.5% of single parent female headed households are in poverty and only 6.4% of married two parent families are poor.
—when President Johnson’s War on Poverty began in 1963 only 7% of children in the U.S. were born out of wedlock, but by 2008 the number was 40.6%. 
—72.3% of black births are out of wedlock.[2]

So until the 1960’s the black family was mostly intact, a two parent household. Furthermore the incarceration rate of black men was about the same as white men until the 1960’s. Now however, 37% of all male prisoners in the U.S. are black when African Americans comprise about 13% of our population. Furthermore from 1930 to 1940, the height of the Great Depression with legalized discrimination against black people and the Jim Crow south, only between 22% and 26% of all prisoners in federal and state prisons were black. By 1964 33% were black and by 1986 the number was 44%.[3]

Sociologists tend to say that poverty leads to crime. During the Great Depression the unemployment rate in black America was 45%. If there was ever a time for crime to go completely out of control in the black community it was then, but that did not happen. Why not? Because the two parent family was intact and because the church was preaching Christ and personal holiness of life. Kids were reared to honor their parents and fear God. Young black men were not killing each other. 

So what happened? Why is fatherlessness rampant in the black community? Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was signed into law by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 as part of the Social Security Act (SSA). The SSA was passed by the majority Democrat Senate and House. The AFDC is “a grant program to enable states to provide cash welfare payments for needy children who had been deprived of parental support or care because their father or mother was absent from the home, incapacitated, deceased, or unemployed.”[4] 

After President Kennedy’s assassination in November, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) soon announced his “War on Poverty.” Until this time African Americans voted almost exclusively for Republicans, since Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. LBJ, the consummate politician, had to find a way to garner the black vote. Though the following quote is challenged for its accuracy, there is strong evidence that he in fact said this, “I’ll have those N_____s voting Democratic for two hundred years.”[5] 

However by 1966, due to LBJ’s preoccupation with the Vietnam War, the War on Poverty was losing steam. So a married couple, both Marxists and Professors in the School of Social Work at Columbia University in New York City, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven developed a strategy to address the situation. They were concerned that administration of welfare payments by the states were too slow and not nearly as comprehensive as they needed to be. They were after a federally funded and controlled welfare system which would move the U.S. toward socialism. Keep in mind that even Lenin said socialism is the logical step leading to communism. The Cloward-Piven strategy was to flood the rolls of state welfare systems and cause the systems to crash. At that point states would be crying for the Federal government to bail them out of their welfare woes. Their ultimate goal was a guaranteed annual income. Sound familiar? As a sidelight, the present COVID-19 power grab by some in the Federal government and many state governments is following the exact playbook of Cloward-Piven. 
Cloward and Piven hoped that when the state welfare systems crashed the Federal Government would then step in and save the day. But how could they swell the welfare rolls? They used the 1935 Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC) policy to convince poor people they could receive government welfare payments. There was only one catch. They had to prove that the families were fatherless. I have listed a link below which gives several testimonies of black people my age who as children, watched their fathers forced out of their homes in order for their mothers to receive their monthly government checks.[6]  

So here is the bottom line—fatherlessness in the black community is rampant because of the welfare system which incentivized a man’s fallen and natural inclination to abdicate his responsibilities. When God addressed Adam’s sin in the garden he told God that the woman whom He had given him caused him to do it (Genesis 3:12). In order to get the government check the man has to go. So, what slavery could not do in two hundred years, destroy the black family, welfare did in less than one generation. And fatherlessness in the black community is the root of all sorts of evil. Added to this welfare debacle is the failure of black preachers to preach the holiness, transcendence, grace, and wrath of God. Of course this is a major problem among white preachers too. A nominal, cultural, and sometimes political gospel has inundated the black church, so even though many young black people in our urban communities are in church on Sundays the church experience does not seem generally to work itself out in spiritual transformation leading to holiness of life. 

What is the remedy? Consider one example with which I am very well aware. Alton and Sandra Hardy moved to Birmingham in August, 2013 to plant a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) congregation in Fairfield, Alabama, a town which prospered fifty and sixty years ago by employing 22,000 people at the local U.S. Steel plant. All the businesses have gone now. Walmart left four or five years ago because people were shoplifting to such a degree that the store was losing money. That was the last big tax revenue source in town. Just last week the city of Fairfield filed for bankruptcy, owing their creditors well over $50 million.[7] Fairfield is number one as the most dangerous city in Alabama. If you live in Fairfield then you have a one in sixty chance of being murdered, attacked, or raped.[8]

Alton’s target is young black fatherless men who typically have dropped out of high school, joined a gang, and are selling drugs. He tells them that while fatherlessness is a contributing factor the real problem is that they have wicked hearts. They cannot blame that on the white man. They have evil hearts which only Jesus can change. He tells them they need to find a woman, marry her, be faithful to her, get a job, and rear children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope in Fairfield. Over the last two or three years Alton has performed around ten weddings of young black couples who have no one in their immediate families living in marriage. They are finding jobs, renting or purchasing inexpensive homes in Fairfield, and rearing their children there. The people of Fairfield are shocked to see young black couples, strolling their babies down the sidewalks of their town.
My friends, this is how we address the issue of fatherlessness. We must have men in the streets of our urban communities actually sharing Christ to people there. Welfare will not get it done. Nor will well meaning social gospel programs. 

1    “African American Marriage Patterns,” Douglas J. Besharov and Andrew West, <media.hoover.org/sites/default/files/documents/0817998721_95.pdf
2  “Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. by the Numbers,” The Heritage Foundation.
3  U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics.
4  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, November 30, 2009.
5  For a discussion on the veracity of LBJ’s alleged statement, read “Did LBJ Say, ‘I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for 200 years?’” Jon Miltimore<intellectualtakeout.org>, October 10, 2016. 
6  “Elders Explain How the Welfare System Forced Black Fathers Out of Households” <blackmainstreet.net>
7  “City of Fairfield Files for Bankruptcy, May 20, 2020 <al.com>
8  “According to FBI Statistics, These Are the 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Alabama for 2020,” <onlyinyourstate.com> January 2, 2020. 

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