"The situation may indeed have begun to feed on itself," reads a gloomy reflection in the Moynihan Report. Published in 1965, few public documents have been the subject of so much misunderstanding and scorn.
Just what was the situation that was "feeding" on itself? The Report, a meticulous piece of research, described the ongoing disintegration of the black family, as demonstrated especially by the weakened role of men. It emphasized the need for public policies designed to strengthen the economic role of black men. Its central thesis raised questions about the ability of the black family to continue its important function as socializer of future generations.
This year, the 30th anniversary of the Report's publication, finds the black family in even greater distress. In fact, the Report's term "disorganized," which was used to describe much of black family life at the time, today sounds rather restrained. Not only have the follies of the '60s not ceased, they have been buttressed by official government policies that reward capricious lifestyles undreamed of even in the heady days of the flower children.
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