Fatherhood is in trouble in the black community, and throughout American society. That is the message issued recently by the Morehouse Conference on African-American Fathers, which released a report titled "Turning the Corner on Father Absence in Black America." Preparation of the statement was cosponsored by the Morehouse Research Institute and the Institute for American Values, and supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.
It was a breakthrough document on the issue because it recognizes both cultural and economic reasons for the collapse of fatherhood. Furthermore, it claims that solutions must entail both cultural (indeed, religiocultural) and economic initiatives. The statement argues that the most important response to absent fathers is the renewal of marriage. But this must go hand-in-hand with economic measures to help black men become employable and therefore marriageable.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).