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The Moynihan Report Revisited


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The Moynihan Report Revisited: A conference co-sponsored by The American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Harvard University Sociology Department and W.E.B. Du Bois Institute on African and African American Research. The Moynihan Report was written in 1965 by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then Assistant Secretary of Labor in the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson. It identified high joblessness among black men as a principal cause of poverty and family instability among African Americans. It documented a growing family disruption and rising unwed childbearing in the black community and, after linking these trends to high male joblessness, warned of the impending dissolution of the black family in the absence of forceful government action. The report was intended to make a moral and political case for federal employment programs to create a full employment economy wherein black males would get jobs. But even before it was published, word of the report generated controversy and was widely perceived as a biased attack on the black family that, at once, stigmatized black men and marginalized black women. For some, Moynihan became a hero, for others a villain, but in the politically charged atmosphere of the 1960s it was exceedingly difficult to offer a balanced appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of Moynihan’s analysis and arguments. Four decades after the report's publication, this conference will undertake that appraisal. The text of the original Moynihan Report, published in March 1965 by the Office of Policy Planning and Research, in the U. S. Department of Labor, is available as a link on this page.