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Rep. Michele Bachmann was recently criticized for signing a pledge titled “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family” which included a section that said: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

The statement is certainly inflammatory, but is it wrong? At The New Republic , John McWhorter provides a ” semi-defense ” of the claim:


[A]s classic work by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman has shown, despite the horrors of slavery, overall, during the pre-emancipation era, about two-thirds of enslaved families had two parents—far more than today. More recent revisionist work has stressed that, while forced separations were always an important part of the picture, the two-thirds figure remained dominant (Wilma Dunaway is especially handy on this). And this tendency continued into the Jim Crow era, contrary to a false sense one might have of daily life in a black ghetto of the 1930s and ’40s—think Richard Wright’s 12 Million Black Voices or Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land. Namely, it is wrong to suppose that, amid the misery of those neighborhoods, all but a sliver of children grew up without a dad. That is a modern phenomenon, whose current extent—fewer than one in three black children are raised by two parents—would shock even the poorest black folk 100 or even 50 years ago.

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(Via: Mere Comments )

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