Obama Chastises Deadbeat Black Fathers

By Evan Mantyk
Evan Mantyk
Evan Mantyk
Evan Mantyk is an English teacher in New York and President of the Society of Classical Poets.
June 17, 2008Updated: October 1, 2015
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) participates in a church service before giving a speech about fatherhood responsibility on Sunday at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL. (David Banks/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) participates in a church service before giving a speech about fatherhood responsibility on Sunday at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL. (David Banks/Getty Images)

In a speech on Father's Day at one of Chicago's largest predominantly black churches, Democratic president candidate Barack Obama chastised deadbeat black fathers.

"Too many fathers also are missing—missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it," said Obama, a U.S. Senator from Illinois, in published remarks. "You and I know how true this is in the African-American community."

Roughly half of all black children live in single-parent households. The 46-year-old Obama noted that this figure has doubled since he was a child.

Obama cited a litany of bleak statistics for black children who grow up in single parent homes. Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves.

"And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it," he said.

The speech would likely be impossible for any white politician to give, but as an African-American himself, Obama came off on Sunday as righteous, not racist. Also, Obama himself grew up partially in a single-parent home before his mother remarried. Obama's father separated from his mother when he was two.

Adding to his righteous tone, Obama quoted from Matthew 7 in the Bible. The quote gave an analogy of a person listening to Jesus' words as being akin to building a house out of rock that could not be weathered.

And he gave his interpretation: "Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important."

Evan Mantyk is an English teacher in New York and President of the Society of Classical Poets.