The Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page mentioned Promise Neighborhoods and HCZ in his most recent column. In it, he notes the increasing national rate of non-marital births, which have occurred across all sectors of society but have been most devastating in low-income communities, where children are denied parental role models and the stability that comes with an intact family.
The topic was considered explosive in the 1960s when Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an Assistant Labor Secretary for President Johnson (later a senator from New York), authored a report on it.
According to Page, it may be time to revisit the issue. In his column, he liberally quotes James T. Patterson, history professor emeritus at Brown University and author of a book entitled, "Freedom Is Not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America's Struggle Over Black Family Life From LBJ to Obama."
According to Page:
We now have a black president who has repeatedly expressed the same alarm over black family disintegration that touched off a culture war when Moynihan expressed it. Yet, we as a nation still seem to prefer argument over action.
The problem is that marriage is a deeply personal issue, one that is difficult for governments to address directly. But it may be possible for governments to at least address some of the consequences. Page continues:
Patterson finds hope in programs like the nationally acclaimed Harlem Children's Zone, which "wraps children in a community of love," as its founder Geoffrey Canada likes to say, while they're still in the womb. Young couples are offered counseling and other help for their children from prenatal to college.
President Barack Obama promised in his 2008 presidential campaign to help replicate the Zone in 20 cities. It's not the long-sought "magic bullet" to beat the problems of child poverty, but if there's any chance for us to fill the vanishing-marriage gap, all-inclusive, community-based approaches are a good place to start.