Jun 2

Past Event

The Marriage Movement and the Black Church

Event Materials


In the growing national debate over marriage, the role of the black church is attracting increased attention. The African American family has undergone major changes in recent decades: nearly seven of ten black children are born to unmarried parents and marriage rates have plummeted. Despite a recent increase in the number of black children living in two-parent families and a 40 percent decline in the birth rate among black teenagers over the last decade, about 85 percent of black children are still expected to spend some or all of their childhood in a single-parent family.

The black church could play a vital role in educating young people and parents about the importance of marriage and about the consequences of nonmarital childbearing, especially by teenagers. Because faith-based organizations are among the most important social institutions in many black communities, the support, resistance, or level of participation of black faith leaders in programs that encourage marriage could either foster or forestall those programs.

At a June 2 symposium at Brookings sponsored by the Welfare Reform & Beyond initiative, several prominent African American ministers will present their views on whether the black church should focus its attention on promoting marriage and reducing nonmarital childbearing and, if so, how the church should go about achieving these goals. After the presentations, a panel of researchers, policymakers, and community activists will provide context for the marriage debate in the black community and respond to the ministers' remarks.

Event Agenda

  • Introduction

  • Moderators

    • Ralph Smith

      Senior Vice President, Annie E. Casey Foundation

    • Robert Franklin

      Presidential Distinguished Professor, Emory University

  • Panelists

    • Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)

    • Diann Dawson

      Director, Office of Regional Operators, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    • Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anthony

      Founder and C.E.O., Judah International Christian Center Brooklyn, New York

    • Rev. Thabiti Anyabwile

      Associate, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Washington, D.C.

    • Rev. Leslie Braxton

      Senior Pastor, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Seattle, Washington

    • Rev. Michael Nabors

      Senior Pastor, New Calvary Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan

    • Robert Woodson

      Founder and President, National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

    • Ronald Mincy

      Professor of Social Work Policy and Practice, Columbia University

    • W. Bradford Wilcox

      Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville


June 2, 2004

9:30 AM - 11:30 AM EDT

Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.


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