In 1970, about 37.5 percent of Black births were to unmarried mothers. In 1980, it jumped to 56.1 percent. There was a general feeling among many Blacks that the upward trend had peaked, but they were sadly mistaken.
In 1990, it was 66.5 percent; and in 1999, it was 68.9 percent. If we keep this current increase going,we will soon double where we were in 1970. Hopefully, it has finally peaked and we will never get there.
At this point, you must be thinking that I'm writing this so I can elaborate on the obvious negatives that these figures hold for the future of Black America. Actually, I listed these figures for a totally different reason.
I see that the glass is half empty, but I also see that the glass is half full. It is that part, the full part, that I choose to celebrate today.
If we look at the other side of those statistics we see that in 1999, at least 31.1 percent of Black births were to married Black women.
We also know that many people get married to the parent of their child after the child is born and we further know that many fathers that never marry their child's mother are yet and still involved in that child's life.
As I have just shown you, we have reason to believe that the majority of Black youth have a father that is active in their lives. If we go one step further and look at father figures, we see that the overwhelming number of Black children have access to a caring male role model. It may be an uncle, grandfather, cousin or the like. It may also be a family friend or someone that is reaching out in an effort to share guidance.
Recently, I talked to Tony Faulkner, president of the Orange County California Chapter of 100 Black Men. I congratulated him because the chapter had just received the organization's Chapter of the Year award. He said that they instruct the 45 youth that they mentor to understand that manhood is based on mastery of skills, not on age. This enables boys to grow into men who can be strong fathers.
This is very important because it is very possible for a young man that has not grown up with his father to be a good father himself. A friend of mine, an author by the name of Marcus Parker, is just such a person. He is busy, successful — and yet available to his two children.
As I think of other 365-days-a-year fathers that I know, Dennis Snipe of WKKC Radio in Chicago come to mind. He has collaborated with me on projects, and I have told him more than once how I admire his daddyhood with his four children. I can name many more fathers that have gone from the brotherhood to the daddyhood, but I'm sure that you get the point by now.
Father's Day runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 and then starts over again. By the way, I want to thank my daughters for the tie and the cologne.
Samuel Justiss Vance is a columnist for BlackNews.com.and the CE0 of Talkinggreen.com, which produces the syndicated radio segment A Positive Moment.