Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Moynihan Report - The Negro Family and the Case for National Action


While 2020 is the year that the Black Lives Matter movement has drawn attention to the problems facing the African American population, the problems of black poverty had already been addressed years ago in an important 1965 report by then Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the liberal Daniel Moynihan: The Negro Family: The Case for National Action aka The Moynihan Report

Different from the orthodox view at the time that economic conditions determine social conditions, this report concluded that the conditions under which black children were being raised, generally in single-mother households, were the leading cause of black poverty. In order to address this, Moynihan called for jobs programs and vocational training for blacks. In his words:

"The fundamental problem… is that of family structure. The evidence - not final but powerfully persuasive - is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling.”

While this report was believed to have influenced the creation of President Johnson's War on Poverty, its conclusions were critized by many black and civil rights leaders. Whatever the various criticisms, this controversial report... 

turned out to have been of long-lasting influence in the debate about the major problems facing the African American people. Although the circumstances have improved for many African Americans, several statistics have not improved or even deteriorated: in 1965 with approximately 25 percent of black babies born out of wedlock, this percentage has grown to 75 percent—with 50 percent for Hispanic babies and 29 percent for white babies. In other areas, such as income, employment, and incarceration, the statistics have deteriorated for blacks.  Clearly, the debate about the causes of black poverty is still not settled in modern day America.

Cosimo Reports offers both a paperback and hardcover edition of this important report.

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