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Holder says Fatherhood is Key for Black Men

James Wright | 2/24/2010, 9:38 p.m.

Holder says Fatherhood is Key for Black Men

The Alliance of Concerned Men, one of the city's leading organizations focusing on problems facing young Black men recently held a roundtable discussion A National Roundtable and Town Hall Meeting on Fatherhood and Solutions to Youth Violence. Tyrone Parker, an activist with the D.C. Commission of Men and Boys hosted the meeting at the University of the District of Columbia and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder served as its keynote speaker. Holder stressed the importance of Black men taking responsibility for their families.

"I have held many titles in my life," Holder said, "but the title that I am most proud of is father. A father's role in the life of a child is irreplaceable."

Fatherhood was one of the many topics addressed during the daylong event in Northwest. During the roundtable, youth gang violence, community policing and the criminal justice system received equal attention.

Speakers noted throughout the conference that 70 percent of all Black children in the District are born into single parent households, overwhelmingly run by women.
Holder, 59, is a former D.C. Superior Court judge, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and deputy U.S. Attorney General. Over the course of his storied career, he has seen Black men in various phases of the criminal justice system. He said that a culture of respect in the home goes a long way in solving the problems of Black males.

We as men need to spend more time with our sons and daughters. We need to teach our sons to have respect for women and daughters to demand respect for themselves.

Studies from various organizations such as the Sentencing Project and the Campaign for Youth Justice have shown that unemployed young Black men have a 30 percent chance of going to prison before the age of 30.

Holder said that the Obama administration has fully embraced and intends to enforce the Second Chance Act of 2007, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008. The law allows the expansion of services for ex-offenders and their families from government agencies and non-governmental organizations whose mission is to aid the family.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said that Holder's words held weight in reference to the conference.

"I deeply appreciate the Attorney General's continuing interest in his hometown, where he served as U.S. Attorney, particularly his understanding of the links between fatherhood, mentoring kids and violence," said Norton, who established the D.C. Commission on Black Men and Boys in 2001.

"Holder's willingness to give the keynote address at this critical town hall on fatherhood and solutions to youth violence is an important indication of the quality and significance of the work of Tyrone Parker and the Alliance of Concerned Men," she said.

Parker said that he was glad that Holder spoke but the next steps are critical in solving the problems of Black men in the city.

"We will continue to engage the White House and the Department of Justice on these issues," he said. This is a comma, not a period. We are glad that they are open to work with us.