A little over 45 years ago, the scholar, politician, diplomat and sociologist, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was correct. At the time he just didn’t know how accurate his projections would be. That’s right, the Democrat pegged it.
Moynihan’s paper titled “The Negro Family: The Case For National Action,” argued that the American Negro’s troubles stemmed primarily from the structure of the family. He went as far as saying the family unit among Negro families was “approaching complete breakdown.”
At the time, civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Floyd McKissick were very critical of the study. McKissick said, “My major criticism of the report is that it assumes that middle-class American values are the correct values for everyone in America. Moynihan thinks that everyone should have a family structure like his own.”
Seems that we’re locked in the same societal struggles today; Middle America wants everyone to adopt structured homes, values and moral guidelines -- others in society want to still argue that it’s the system’s fault and there’s little individual responsibility.
Moynihan, a New York Democrat, also took heat from downplaying the importance of school integration. Moynihan wanted less energy on creating artificial integration and more energy spent making poor schools better.
I compare the ’60s integration issue with that of consolidation here in Macon/Bibb County. While it is something that is needed it won’t be the glorious utopian concept that is predicted. It’ll be beneficial for most, but will never begin to stymie these swings of hatred, violence and territorial street crews that we’ve witnessed recently.
What Moynihan failed to predict in his prophetic paper was that by the year 2005, his theory of the broken family structure would apply to various cultures across the spectrum, regardless of ethnicity.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in November 2009 there were approximately 21.8 million children being raised by a single parent. Eighty-four percent of the single parents are women, 45 percent are divorced or separated, 34.2 percent have never been married and 1.7 percent were widowed.
In 1966, Moynihan wrote for Jesuit magazine, America, “there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder ... are not only to be expected, they are very near to inevitable. And they are richly deserved.”
Macon’s recent violence and bloodletting is nothing new, only the latest symptom of the much larger issues that we’ve all identified.
After eight people were shot last week in the Unionville area, here’s our challenge and the task facing hundreds of other cities around the country: What do we do to change the culture of ignorance?
First, dare I suggest spiritual intervention? Second, a round-up of young people that breaks curfew can be done. Third, society once and for all must decide we’re going to penalize parents for not controlling their underage children. Hitting them in the pocketbook and a little jail time should get their attention.
Finally, just as Moynihan suggested, all young Americans should serve in the military and those who are turned down get two years in organizations such as the Peace Corps and its domestic equivalents. Think how our society might look today if Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Congress had agreed with the idea of a universal two-year service program back in 1966.
Kenny Burgamy serves as a marketing consultant and is co-host of the Kenny B. Charles E., TV, radio and Internet program.