Walter E. Williams

 What about the decline of the black family? In 1960, only 28 percent of black females between the ages of 15 and 44 were never married. Today, it's 56 percent. In 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 19 percent, in 1960, 22 percent, and today, it's 70 percent. Some argue that the state of the black family is the result of the legacy of slavery, discrimination and poverty. That has to be nonsense. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families, comprised of two parents and children. In New York City in 1925, 85 percent of kin-related black households had two parents. In fact, according to Herbert Gutman in The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom: 1750-1925, "Five in six children under the age of 6 lived with both parents." Therefore, if one argues that what we see today is a result of a legacy of slavery, discrimination and poverty, what's the explanation for stronger black families at a time much closer to slavery -- a time of much greater discrimination and of much greater poverty? I think that a good part of the answer is there were no welfare and Great Society programs.

 Since black politicians and the civil rights establishment preach victimhood to blacks, I'd prefer that they be more explicit when they appear in public fora. Were they to be so, saying racists are responsible for black illegitimacy, blacks preying on other blacks and black family breakdown, their victimhood message would be revealed as idiotic. But being so explicit is not as far-fetched as one might think. In a campaign speech before a predominantly black audience, in reference to so many blacks in prison, presidential candidate John Kerry said, "That's unacceptable, but it's not their fault."


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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