In the 1960s, 80% of black children were raised in two-parent families. Today in nearly every major city, black children are raised in 80% fatherless homes. This cultural shift has happened without one national initiative to reverse the trend. The one institution that should have led a campaign to reverse the trend was the black church.
Black pastors failed their community and as a result, we are a culture in crisis.
During the worst of times in American history — from post-Civil War to Jim Crow to Red Lining — the black community was comprised mostly of families with a father and a mother. These communities were anchored in our cultural roots of faith, family, and education — getting a better education for our children.
Unfortunately, with the dawn of the welfare age, black pastors did not sound the warning bell loud enough. There were some exceptions, but unfortunately, those exceptions were ignored or drowned out.
LBJ’s Great Society social welfare programs in the 1960s financially incentivized women to have children outside of marriage for the first time in U.S. history. The programs were heavily marketed in urban communities. The absence of a husband and father seemed a small price to pay for “free money” and housing.
Sadly, pastors did not band together to warn women about the short and long-term dangers of government dependency or black men about their responsibilities to their wives and children. Politicians and leaders in the black community happily got our people hooked on welfare dependency and after 50 years of collateral damage, they knew the downstream consequences. Booker T. Washington said, “A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority.”
The health of our community reveals the spiraling decline. Based on CDC annual reports:
- Homicide is the #1 cause of death for black male pediatric patients.
- Black Americans are #1 for diabetes.
- Black Americans are #1 in obesity.
Although we are only 12% of the population, we make up most cases of STDs and most new cases of HIV.
In addition to the destruction of our families, public schools in black communities are failing our children. In many urban schools, over 60% of graduates cannot read and do math or science at grade level. We have not rung alarm bells. Pastors should be on the front lines demanding school vouchers because children who have escaped the failure factories of urban schools are performing at or above national averages in core academic subjects at private and/or charter schools.
It is time to clean our own house and demand that pastors lead or step aside. I call upon objective and solution-oriented leaders from the black community to join me.
It is time for a national appeal amongst all black Christian pastors, leaders, fraternities, and sororities to join together for a day of prayer and fasting. Like the prodigal son, we must begin the journey home with a return to God and our cultural roots of faith, family, and education.
This movement will not require a local, state, or federal grant. It will require grit, a focus on biblical standards, and a desire to teach young people the importance of a strong education, marriage before children, and a love of God and country.
If the black community is ever to be restored, it will require us to come together under the banner of Jesus Christ. Help us give birth to a movement to restore two-parent families and improve our schools. Go to takechargemn.com, click on the Prodigal Project and fill out the requested information.
Kendall Qualls is a former Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota. He was recently reinstated as President of TakeCharge, an organization that promotes the idea that the promise of America is available to anyone regardless of race or social standing. Mr. Qualls is an Army veteran. He has been married for 36-years and has five children.