My Brothers Keeper Must Begin and End with Responsible Fatherhood

Working With Young Men and Boys of Color Starts At Home

NEW YORK, March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- There has been much to talk about with the announcement of President Obama's My Brothers Keeper call to action. Throughout the social media space there has been a continuous scurrying of praise, posturing and positioning for undetermined funds and unspecified resources. Unfortunately and traditionally, this is what happens in the human services field when scarce resources attempt to avail themselves to an under-resourced market. Trust me, I still have the fresh wound to proof what happens in this kind of environment. However this is where we find ourselves answering a fresh call with the anticipation of developing strategies for working with Young Men and Boys of Color.

We've been here before and ironically we are no stranger to identifying, articulating and expressing the needs of Black Men and Boys. In 1965 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 49 years; not because of what it revealed; but because of how close it has come to the truth.

Even President Obama recognized in his speech that, "we've become numb to these statistics. We're not surprised by them. We take them as the norm. We just assume this is an inevitable part of American life, instead of the outrage that it is." History of the Black man in this country confirms this notion. In addition what has been largely accepted as normal for Black Men and Boys in this country, is also unfair, misdirected and grossly discriminant.

No area of black life has been more intimately impacted than that of family formation. Today, 72.3 percent of Black children are born to out-of-wedlock households, which research confirms adds to the possibility of them both living in poverty and spending portions of their lives without the active and consistent contributions of their fathers.

It is admirable that the country's leadership through our President has found the courage to raise the issue of Black Men and Boys. Likewise, Fathers Incorporated in collaboration with the Urban Institute, revisited the 1965 U.S. Department of Labor "Moynihan Report." Almost five decades after the release of the Moynihan Report, our analysis of national data indicated that little progress has been made on the key issues Moynihan identified. Further, many of the issues he identified for Black families are now worse and prevalent among other families, particularly in the areas of Family Stability, Employment, Education, and the Criminal Justice System.

Revisiting the Moynihan Report has re-energized and focused Fathers Incorporated's attention to the important work that still needs to be done, which is why we are launching the Moynihan Research Institute for Families and Children. The Institute's mission is to embody the Moynihan Report's call to action to address the complex issues facing vulnerable families through research, advocacy, and information dissemination and education that can be used for social change. 

The Moynihan Research Institute for Families and Children has several key efforts that are inline with the goals of President Obama's My Brothers Keeper:

  • Service Equity:  We will seek to proactively modify programs that were designed to serve primarily mothers and children, where appropriate, to explicitly include fathers and strengthen their involvement with their children, and to include evidence of father involvement and participation in measuring the success of programs. 
  • Family Stability:  Children, on average, have the best developmental outcomes when they are raised in two biological or adoptive parent families, so increasing the share of two-income parent households with stable, healthy relationships is always a worthy goal.  When that isn't possible, it is still essential to put supports in place that will help parents cooperatively get along, so the father isn't left out of the family equation and children aren't exposed to high levels of conflict. 
  • Improve the Capacity of Fathers: We need to help non-custodial fathers support their children financially and emotionally by improving educational opportunities, and by helping them obtain good jobs that build wealth and a career path. We will also continue the innovative work the Administration has started in the area of addressing the child support debt of low-income fathers.

Frederick Douglass was quoted to say, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." And, while I agree with this sentiment, our current condition is that we have too many broken men who are unavailable, under-resourced, unappreciated, and under-utilized in the process of raising strong children. The President struck a cord when he said; "nothing keeps a young man out of trouble like a father who takes an active role in his son's life." To which, I suggest that My Brothers Keeper will make tremendous gains in stimulating the work before us if it also invests in programs that build the capacity of fathers to adequately provide for and support their families.

The President made a good point by saying, "we have got to continue to encourage responsible fatherhood." However, encouragement is NOT ENOUGH and education is not the only answer. The work of Young Men and Boys of Color will be negligent in its efforts if it does not include the necessary work that also has to be done to strengthen fathers. Again; its not enough to call them out and make them accountable; we must also provide them with the necessary services and support to sustain the high level of expectations we have for them in being successful parents.

This entire effort began by the President saying one line in his State of the Union address about men of color. If one line can stimulate this kind of response, then the fact that he used the term "father" six times in his My Brothers Keeper presentation has to elicit an equal amount of attention.

You can find out more about Fathers Incorporated by visiting and our pending work on the Moynihan Research Institute on Families and Children at

Media Contact: Kenneth Braswell, Fathers Incorporated, 518-227-6161,

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SOURCE Fathers Incorporated



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