Saying ‘I Do’: Black Marriage Campaign Is Growing

Megan K. Scott, WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.), March 26, 2010

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Other black couples will be marking the eighth annual Black Marriage Day this weekend, by attending workshops, black-tie dinners and other activities. Some groups have held events throughout the month, although Black Marriage Day, which celebrates matrimony in the black community, falls on the fourth Sunday in March.

The founder estimates more than 300 celebrations are being held this weekend. The aim is to try to stabilize, if not reverse, the trend of non-commitment within the black community. Studies show blacks are less likely to marry than other ethnic groups and more likely to divorce and bear children out of wedlock.

Experts blame the disparities in part on high black male unemployment, high black male imprisonment and the moderate performance of black men in college compared with black women.

They also note the lack of positive images of black marriage in the media and several misperceptions about matrimony–that it’s for white people, that it’s a ball and chain, that fatherhood and marriage are not linked.

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Despite those attitudes toward marriage, there are a handful of campaigns to get blacks to walk down the aisle, from the federal government’s African American Healthy Marriage Initiative to Marry Your Baby Daddy Day, with 10 unwed couples with children tying the knot later this year in New York.

“You Saved Me,” a documentary that explores the marriages of eight black couples, will be screened in more than 20 cities this weekend as part of a Black Marriage Day premiere.

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Black Marriage Day founder Nisa Islam Muhammad is encouraging couples to renew their vows in front of friends and family in honor of Tyler Perry’s movie “Why Did I Get Married Too?” which opens April 2.

Muhammad points out that many black children come from single-parent households and contends that the media are not helping. There’s never been a black “Bachelor” on the popular TV show, and the star of the 2008 movie “27 Dresses,” about a 27-time bridesmaid, was white.

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Most blacks already think that marriage is a good thing, said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But many can’t find anyone they think would make a good spouse.

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