RESPONDING TO THE MOYNIHAN REPORT, 1965: REPRESENTATIONS OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY ON TELEVISION IN 1970s AND 1980s CHRISTOPHER J.P. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honors in African American Studies WILLIAMS COLLEGE Williamstown, Massachusetts May 3,2005 I. Introduction: Chapter One IV.
Chapter Two V. Chapter Three VI. Conclusion VII.
Bibliography Table of Contents Acknowledgements First off, I would to thank my thesis advisor, Anna Bean, for her help and support while doing this thesis. She was invaluable and I do not think I would have completed this without her. Secondly, I would lilce to thank Merida Rua and Scott Wong for allowing me to engage with the work before I began the actual thesis project.
If I had not started some work for your classes I would definitely not be done right now. Thank you again. All my friends and family have been an support system and I would not be here without your encouragement and guidance.
I would to thank my Grandma for leading me to the point that I am right now and I wished that she was here to share in my joy. To all my Williams friends, thank ... more. less.
you for being there for me when I was down and when I thought I should quit. To the Activities Office, especially Barb, Jess, Anna and Gail, thanlc you for giving me advice when necessary and allowing me to rant when times were hard.<br><br> You are all my inspiration. Lastly, you to R. Svenslc for helping with some of the editing.<br><br> Introduction Television influences the ways in which many Americans gain a sense of the lives of people with whom they do not have regular contact. While not always representative of an entire culture or people, the presence of these shows can truly change how society views such groups and their lifestyles. By the late increasing numbers of African American family sitcoms emerged out of the Civil Rights Movement.<br><br> From 1968 - 71, shows Julia, starring Diahann Carroll, appeared on the small screen, putting in front of American eyes a young African American woman, raising her young child alone after her husband died in the Vietnam War. In presenting a woman whose husband fought for the good of the country, and who also held a steady, respectable job as a nurse into the light, a wave of shows began that promised exposure to the true lives of African American families. This new wave of shows counteracted images of African Americans on television in the 1950s such as Amos 'n' Andy (June 1951 - June 1953) and Beulah (October 1950 - September 1953).<br><br> These depictions often to classic stereotypes about African Americans the heavyset maid (Mammy) and the shiftless male (Sambo). While some argue that these images created physical connection for African Americans, they did not entirely refute any common misconceptions. In most of the other televised examples of African American characters, they were part of the bacltdrop, often relegated to roles that did not empower African Americans.<br><br> The late through efforts of the Civil Rights Movement and television shows Julia, then helped to push African Americans into the spotlight, proving that not all African Americans followed the formula and stereotypes formerly presented of them. In this work, I will focus on the increased presence of the African American family on television through three shows in the years following Julia through three shows: Good Times (February 1974 - August The (January 1975 - July and The Cosby Show (September 1984 - April 1992). Each of these shows was popular in the 1970s and and achieved cross - cultural success, bringing the African American family into the homes of all Americans.<br><br> African Americans now had a face on the television screen that had not had, one that was popular and arguably positive. Not only did these families speak towards the rhetoric surrounding the American Dream, but they often presented common of which all (or many) Americans were lcnowledgeable. These shows came at a time when African Americans made significant gains in the socio - political arena as a result of the Civil Rights Movement.<br><br> During this time, African Americans went on the quest for the rights and freedoms that the U.S. Constitution afforded them. This struggle resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter Rights Act of 1965, both of which paved the way for change in the socio - political as well as economic life for African Americans for years to come.<br><br> The legislation that the Movement helped to bring forth also a surge in interest from scholars into the problems that African Americans in a lower position that white Americans. This examination was not limited to historians and sociologists; rather, it became part of a larger project that Lyndon B. Johnson's administration One of the major components of Johnson's agenda was to at the institution of the family, especially when thinking about the problems of the African American life, as the administration felt it was the crux of one's personal existence.<br><br> Daniel Patrick Moynihan took this idea to task in The Negro Family: A Case for National Action breaking down what he felt the problems that affected the African American family at that period of time in hopes that it would some debate on what policies should come to light to help combat some of these problems. Moynihan wrote the report as part of the commentary on the " War on In Chapter I will delve into the ideas presented by Moynihan and his contemporaries in hopes of providing insight into the ways in which many of these scholars and researchers portrayed the African American family. Many looked to the perceived absence of the African American father and the high levels of unemployment as damaging for the future of African American families.<br><br> However, it is also important to about the past conceptions of the African American family that came to light in such works as E. Franklin Frazier's in the United States the 1930s. Concurrently, one must question how pivotal the sociological and policy studies of the 1960s and in constructing a popular - version of the African American family.<br><br> Good Times depicted a family in the projects of Chicago in the 1970s. The show was a spin off of the popular Norman Lear show Maude, in which their maid Florida (Esther moved away from the family to focus on raising her own children and being a wife to her husband James Sr. (played by John Amos).<br><br> In the small apartment on the floor, viewers also met their sons James Jr., JJ (Jimmie Walker) and Michael (Ralph Carter), as well as their daughter Thelma In this setting, we gained insight into the harsh realities of being poor, African American and living in the ghetto. Yuill, Kevin L. " The 1996 White House Conference on Civil Rights.<br><br> " The Historical (March 1998): 262 The traced a family's move from Harlem to " deluxe apartment in the sky " on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This show was also a Norman Lear spin - off, this time of the ever - popular All in the Family. The show focused on George and Louise Jefferson (Sherman and Isabel Sanford, respectively), their college aged son Lionel (played by Mike Evans and Evans), their maid Florence (Marla Gibbs), and their neighbors, Tom, Helen and Jenny Cover, Roxie and Berlinda Tolbert respectively).<br><br> In this situation comedy, the Jefferson family had to deal with newfound wealth as a result of George's growing dry cleaning business. The show also examined specific issues regarding race through George's relationships with the the first interracial couple in television history, as well as his neighbors and business associates. Again, fresh off the heels of the Civil Right Movement, the show helped bolster the image of the African American family and the potential for it to be truly successful.<br><br> Lastly, The Cosby Show presented an African American family that was removed from the situation of being attached to a life in the ghetto or some type of lower class situation. The Huxtable family, lead by Cliff (Bill Cosby) who was an and Claire (Phylicia Allen - Rashad) who was a partner in a leading law firm were certainly upper middle class. The couple had five children: Sandra (Sabrina Denise (Lisa Bonet), Theo (Malcolm Jsmal Warner), Vanessa (Tempest Bledsoe), and Rudy (Keisha Knight - Pulliam).<br><br> Unlilte the other two shows, race did not take on a huge factor in the building of the storyline; instead, parenting any other issues that come about when you have five children became the crux of plot lines in this particular sitcom. Related to this idea, it is important to lceep in mind the ways in which these shows portray African American - ness and the issues associated with race on the screen each weelc. For Good Times and The I would argue that the viewer must note the performative nature of their acting and the racially based humor.<br><br> In these cases, we get a glimpse at African American life not only because of the fact that they are physically but, rather, through the subject matter that they find funny, the ways in which they carry their bodies and the language that they use when expressing While some may view this performance as stereotypical while negating the positive aspects that the shows may offer, the fact that these sitcoms remained popular throughout their entire run may indicate that it was not so relevant. At the same time, it is important to then look at these performances as unique to the world of situation comedies, while also looking past the performance to find the meaning and essence of the African American family. Contrastingly, The Cosby does not present a vision of this stereotypical African American.<br><br> None of the characters are especially loud or use any type of racial language when addressing anyone on the show. Rather, their African American - ness comes from a more of a refined and educated view of blaclcness. In this particular vision, blaclcness comes from a result of at higher arts and a focus on education.<br><br> The Huxtable family focused on at African American art and jazz as of their definition of blackness, while simultaneously raising the awareness and status of certain types of African American popular culture. They also had notable African American 2 In my opinion, these stereotypes included being loud, distorted facial loud, crass, and quite ignorant to the world around them. At the same time, these stereotypes also included hyper sexuality and the idea that African Americans were quite aloof.<br><br> This imagery came from American minstrelsy as well as images presented in shows like Andy. guest stars such as B.B. King, and discussed crucial points in African American history like Martin Luther " I Have a Dream " speech and the 1963 March on Washington.<br><br> In Chapter 2, I focus on how the economic and social classes that these different shows inhabit affect their relationship with some of the issues relating to the African American experience during their shows tenure. Their behavior or expression of blackness came to represent some of the ways in which they interacted with the world around them. In my thinking about this relationship, issues of physical surroundings, education and employment became paramount.<br><br> On the whole, these different types of performance and views of black life show that the African American community is multi - classed and inclusive of different types of people. Chapter 3 examines how these shows represented African American males - inclusive of fathers, sons and any guest stars that came on during the shows tenure. Here, I look at how the portrayal of these men relate to the reality that scholars illustrate in their discussion of the African American family Most often, these scholars talk about a of a father figure and even if he is around, how the father does not necessarily contribute to the in a positive light.<br><br> In contrast, I about the ways in which the main characters on these three television shows presented a positive look at the African American male influence on the family. The men are still human, not infallible, and the shows present some negative imagery to make them more realistic, occasionally encountering some type of downfall, but always recovering triumphantly. In about these men, it is important to note how they interact with the next generation of African American males as they are leaders of the African American community.<br><br> This thesis examines the relationship that these television shows had with the contemporary scholarly information available about the African American family. While these shows dramatize the life of African Americans through the situational comedy format, they shed light on the realities that African Americans and their families dealt with on a daily basis as noted by Moynihan and his contemporaries. These sitcoms bridge the gap between scholars and the American population.<br><br> Although they reality on some level, the shows brought a view of African Americans to the forefront of society through the increasingly popular medium of television. While addressing these issues, the shows helped to combat any negative imagery in the minds of Americans with the hopes that it would influence the of viewers, continuing the goals of the Civil Rights Movement. Chapter 1: Moynihan and Friends: An Analysis of the African American Family As described in social science research from the 1960s to present day, the African American continues to deal with structural problems that result from the historical injustices faced because of race and the relationship race has with elements of society - education, economics, and the penal system to name a few.<br><br> The effects of unemployment, how the family connects and relates to each other, and support within the community also become important in examinations on how the African American family takes shape in the post - Civil Rights Movement era. While this social science scholarship has provided insight into the lives of African Americans, most Americans have not gained their knowledge of these families from scholarly readings but, rather, through the popular medium of television. In this thesis, I will examine the development of the African American television family during the period of 1974 - 1992 through several shows: Good Times (February 1974 - August The (January 1975 - July and The Cosby Show (September 1984 - April 1992).<br><br> I hope to describe and comment upon connections between the contrived African American family on television and the social science and policy reports, specifically the Moynihan Report of 1965, which begin to examine harsh realities that many African Americans face on a daily basis. One of the most noted scholars on the African American family is E. Frazier, who established modern sociology on families with his 1930s study, The Negro Family in the United States.<br><br> In The Negro Family, Frazier focused on two main problems. First was the dissemblance of the Negro family, which he attributed to experiences in two different locations and time periods in the African American history, slavery and post - Reconstruction, as well as rural area and urban areas. In his mind, families in rural areas post - slavery continued to live life in the way they how very similar to their lives during slavery by continuing a dependence on their oppressors through sharecropping, which economically held them to a situation very similar to their situation under bondage.<br><br> Concurrently, when African Americans moved north during the Great Migration (with the largest flows happening circa displacement and dissemblance occurred naturally, therefore influencing their ways of living as African Americans pursued which ever routes they could to gain the most freedom for themselves and their families. other main point focuses on the ideas that slavery brought forth the matrifocal family. In his mind, this type of familial structure was " an adaptation to the conditions of slavery and those of post - emancipation rural and urban southern life.<br><br> which changed the character and success of the African American family in Frazier compares this " stream " of the family to the more traditional dual parent patriarchal family which he notes " owned property, enjoyed middle - class occupations, or had independent artisan and craft In his mind, the dual parent patriarchal lifestyle was more productive, one which African Americans families should begin to emulate if they wanted to find success and stability. In the time after Frazier, African Americans continued to establish themselves in the and search for a secure space the American landscape. Paramount to the beginning of substantial change for African Americans were the case vs.<br><br> of Herbert. Myths about the Afro - Amencan Family. " Journal of Interdisciplinary History 6,2 (Autumn 1975): 185.<br><br> Ibid., 185. Education of Topeka, Kansas the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi and the bus boycotts in the South during the mid all of which set off the modem Civil Right Movement. African Americans throughout the country began up while hoping to make their mark in educational institutions, in the workplace, and in their daily lives.<br><br> With the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they could now act on the freedoms and equalities that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave to them post - Civil War; the act prohibited the segregation of public places inclusive of schools and any place that received any type of tax funding. before, African Americans now possessed legal protection from Jim Crow laws, which they thought would be the step towards the future. Although this was a major movement in the lives of African Americans in this country, socio - economic disparities that persisted in the years prior to the Civil Rights legislation continued to plague their lives post - 1964165.<br><br> The transition to their newly acquired spaces for mobility and equality was not easily navigable considering the racial discrimination that clouded the socio - political atmosphere. With this intolerance still in place, African Americans would still have to prove that they could sustain themselves in a world that already functioned without recognizing their contributions. In the midst of this period, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a policy writer for the US Department of Labor and future New York State Senator, published The Negro Family: A Case for National Action (1965) in response to the growing political pressures on Lyndon B.<br><br> Johnson's administration to produce tangible results from the new Civil Rights legislation. His report grappled with the continued problems that surrounded the mid - sixties African American family. In the background of his report, Moynihan acltnowledged the longstanding history behind the problems of African Americans, much lilte Frazer did.<br><br> To Moynihan, this was the time when America could act most accordingly ensuring African Americans the support they needed to profit from their newly articulated freedoms. Moynihan noted that there needed to be a " new and special effort " made in order for the change to happen, for two specific reasons: First, the racist virus in the American blood stream still affects us: Negroes will encounter serious personal prejudice for at least another generation. Second, three centuries of sometimes unimaginable mistreatment have talten their toll on the Negro people.<br><br> The harsh face is that as a group, at the present time, in terms of ability to win out the competitions of American life, they are not equal to most of those groups with which they will be Moynihan talked to the idea of a historical pattern of oppression and its affects on the African American in America. This pattern kept African Americans in spaces where they always operated on a sub - standard level. As one set of advancements occur, another hurdle waited for the African American to Until African Americans operated on at the same level as whites socially and economically, this system of oppression would , continue.<br><br> For Moynihan, this oppression of the African American continued due to an ignorance held by white Americans on the true situations of the African American family. Moynihan noted that there were two factors that contributed to this level of ignorance. The first was the growing numbers of visible middle class African Americans, which made white Americans think that there was progress for all African Americans.<br><br> By grouping all African Americans into one category and ignoring class distinctions, the general public did not see the plight of lower class African Americans. This of Rainwater, Lee and William L. The Report and the Politics of Controversy.<br><br> Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press, kinowledge on the part of white Americans included their belief that the African American family had an extreme level of disorganization, which was at the heart of the problem that he addresses. From this, Moynihan developed the idea of the " tangle of pathology.<br><br> " In this idea, he goes into depth about how the matriarchal familial structure that exists in the African American family is the key to their problems in society. Because this familial structure was out of sync from the " great majority " of American families, specifically white America, it imposed on the advancement of African Due to their difference, white people down on African American habits and tended to disregard their families as " disorganized " or incapable of positive performance. He went on to mention the African American middle class and how they have found the means to achieve because they followed a patriarchal system the majority of Americans do.<br><br> According to Moynihan, this could be a result of education, less children, and the time invested in parenting children. Moynihan noted several areas in which this whole delinquent familial structure is affecting the progress of the African American in society. In terms of education, Moynihan examined the idea that African American women often attained a higher level of education that male counterparts.<br><br> His range of assessment began from school age children until college, where it seems that female students were better students than 4 Ibid., p. 75. Moynihan states: " In essence, the Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure which, because it is so out of line with the rest of American society, seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole, and imposes a burden on the Negro male, and in consequence, on a great many of Negro women as well.<br><br> There is, presumably, no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement. However, it is clearly a disadvantage for a minority group to be operated on principle, while the great majority of the population, and the one with the advantages to begin with, is operating on another. This is the present situation of the Negro.<br><br> Ours is a society which presumes male leadership in private and public affairs. The arrangements of society facilitate such leadership and reward it. A subculture, such as that of the Negro American, in which this is not the pattern, is places at a distinct disadvantage.<br><br> " males. Later in life, this difference can be the direct cause of the disparities in the areas of income and education - with women having more education, there are more opportunities available for them in the white collar and professional It was this division that began to cause the internal problems, according to Moynihan. He quoted several scholars on how this has affected the relations between the man and the woman.<br><br> In the end, many women were not satisfied with the situation of men not working or contributing to the household economically. As a result, many of these women then chose to be single, to avoid some of the problems that could arise as result of the educational disparity between themselves and their male counterparts. At the same time, it was a problem for some of these men to have wives or partners who more money or have more education than them.<br><br> Moynihan discussed how this matriarchal system began to impact children, especially leaving young males, as Moynihan terms, " emasculated under their mother's care. With no strong father figure to help nurture and develop these young men, Moynihan believed this leads to growing levels of delinquency and crime among African American men. This idea spoke to the perception that a father needed to present in order to prove productive.<br><br> While this may be one viable explanation for the development of these young men, Moynihan does not mention the other men besides the father who surround these men, including the possibilities for these black men to provide similar support when necessary. His notion does speak to a historical alienation of the African American man. He attributed this separation of African American men and the rest of American society to a lack of information found in his main source, 1960 US Census Data.<br><br> When people went Ibid., p. 78 out to collect the relevant information, men were often not in the homes that they were supposed to be in. When they were and about their job situation, they almost all answered that they were not in the work force.<br><br> This lack of data this situation tougher for the contemporary scholar to gain a concrete confidence in what Moynihan tries to articulate. Moynihan broke his argument into four points. The first noted that " nearly a quarter of urban Negro families are In this section, he points to the fact that many women who were married are now divorced, separated or living apart from their husbands, with the highest rates in the northeast (26 percent of He compared these figures with that of white women from the years 1950 - 60 showing a significant difference between the numbers of divorce between the two groups with whites less inclined to engage in the practices of divorce and separation.<br><br> His second point stated " nearly one quarter of Negro births are now Moynihan noted that rates are increasing in both the white and non - white worlds: " Both white and Negro illegitimacy rates have been increasing, although at dramatically different bases. The white rate was 2 percent in 1940; it was 3.07 percent in 1963. In that period, the Negro rate went from 16.8 percent to 23.6 Here he importantly notes that although some African American children are technically illegitimate, they are still a product of two people who are unmarried but in a stable relationship.<br><br> He also acknowledged that these figures are questionable, dependent on the limited sources from which he attained them. His third idea is that " almost one - fourth of Negro families are 52. 7 Ibid., p.<br><br> 54. Ibid., 54. p.<br><br> 54. headed by Again, he mentioned the growing rates of divorce and separation as one of the causes of this, while comparing the rates to those of the white family. Levels among white Americans were dropping off while there was a doubling within the African American community.<br><br> He states: " It has been estimated that only a minority of Negro children reach the age of 18 having lived all their lives with both their Again, this to notion that a stable family means a patriarchal dual parent family structure. Lastly, Moynihan states " the breakdown of the Negro family has led to a startling increase in welfare At the time of his writing, approximately 14 percent of black children receive AFDC dollars in comparison to the 2 percent of white children. In two - thirds of these cases, Moynihan said that families cited desertion by the father as the problem.<br><br> In his mind, there was a correlation with the growing numbers of family on welfare to the levels of disorganization and disintegration of the African American family. " While Moynihan presented these points for his reader, not only in his own words but also through the use of graphs and statistics, there have been questions as to what exactly his numerical data shows. In each of these cases, he noted the figure one - fourth of African Americans fall into the situation that he says plagues their families.<br><br> While probably statistically significant, does not take into account the different types of African American families to which he says other studies tend to omit. Lumping African American families together did not help highlight some of the economic and social Ibid., p. 55.<br><br> Ibid. Ibid., p. 58.<br><br> Ibid, p. 58, 60. disparities that existed.<br><br> These goals generalizations about the plights of these families and about the ways in which the other 75 percent of African Americans live. Moynihan did discuss the role that the historical oppression for African American plays in this phenomenon. Like Frazier, he noted that slavery had a significant impact on the lives of African Americans.<br><br> Even after Emancipation, African Americans still encountered hostility in the worlcplace, especially in the case of males employment. The idea that these men would work for cheaper wages to support their families threatened many white Americans who were their competitors in the As a result, finding a job was much harder for African American males which impeded their ability to be the sole breadwinner of the family. Moynihan connected this history with the general perception about the of a strong father figure in many African American families.<br><br> Frazier (whom he also quotes heavily in this section), Moynihan credits urbanization as another factor in the dissemblance of the African American family. He states: Country life and city life are profoundly different. The gradual shift of American society from a rural to an urban basis over the past century and a half has caused abundant strains, many of which are still in evidence.<br><br> When this shift occurs suddenly, drastically, in one or two generations, the effect is immensely disruptive of the traditional social With the massive migration to the city, the Negro had become more urbanized that the rural family, and more vulnerable to the ills of society. These ills became more complex as a result of the racial inequities that plagued their American existence. It barred them from jobs and homes, forcing some to do whatever they could do to secure a space for Ibid., p.<br><br> 63. He goes onto compare this notion to the idea of Irish slums at the turn of the century in New York. their family in their new city; at the same time, the disdain for many African Americans across the country allowed for these advances to seem as a negative aspect all the time.<br><br> From here, Moynihan discussed the effects of unemployment and the wage system on these families. Citing studies done with white families, he noted that it appears that having more money means more family stability. He observed " work is precisely the one thing that the Negro family head ...<br><br> has not received over past Throughout the period of 1930 - 1960, non - white unemployment (as defined by Moynihan) was always higher than that of whites, especially during the period of the Depression (roughly 1930 - 1940). He also mentions that when African Americans finally did get jobs, they often earn about 53 - 65 percent of what whites made, partly due to their race and salaries. Moynihan also revisits his notion of the importance of the factors of divorce and separation.<br><br> Due to inadequate economic means, he notes that families had to separate or suffer from desertion. Along with increasing levels of birth and illegitimacy, the future for African American families appears to going into an even worse direction. To Moynihan, the federal government needed to acknowledge the overall gravity of the situation.<br><br> Noting the deep fissures of the past that have contributed to this situation for African Americans, he called for national action. Moynihan uses his predecessor Frazier to conclude, acknowledging that the integration of the black male is paramount to the success of any program. Whatever the social program that the country chose, Moynihan stated that it should say: The policy of the United States is to bring the Negro American to full and equal sharing in the responsibilities and rewards of citizenship.<br><br> To this end, the programs of the Federal government bearing on this objective ' " bid., 66. shall be designed to have the effect, directly or indirectly, of enhancing the stability and resources of the Negro With this statement, Moynihan identifies it as the task of America to shed the racist policies in order to help the African American family to achieve some success. While the Moynihan Report brought some interesting information and ideas to the table, it was not imperfect.<br><br> Besides the issue of discounting large populations in his paper through focusing only on the one - fourth of African Americans, his use of the 1960s census as his main statistical source was questionable. Like the WPA narratives collected in the 1930s and the people who collected the survey data were not necessarily pursuing all of the correct information or going to all of the places that they needed to go. There were often discrepancies due to the fact that many of the interviewers were white and did not necessarily get an accurate view of the lives of these former slaves, due to the ages of the interviewees and their discomfort when speaking with white interviewers.<br><br> Also, in several places, Moynihan uses the term non - white, including his many graphs, which could include other groups that are not African American. While his findings specifically about the African American population, his terminology leaves room to question if the data only included this particular subsection of non - white. It also seems interesting that he focused on comparing the middle class white family and their morals to the African American populations that he deems as suffering at the time, as result of their poverty.<br><br> In many respects, the Moynihan Report the moral character of the African American family in its indictment that African American families were not doing well. The report does not look at how these families are doing ' " bid., p. 94.<br><br> well. The report also does not delve into comparisons that might emerge between white Americans in similar socio - economic situations as the African Americans. report did not give specific details as to how Americans should go about on the large of instituting the changes necessary to help the African American family besides a removal of racial constructs that have existed for the past 300 years and continue to plague America in many ways in 2005.<br><br> This incompletion of the integration project came to light at the 1966 White House Conference on Civil Rights. Kevil Yuill, professor of history at the University of Sunderland (United Kingdom), described this conference as a failure on many levels. President Johnson wanted to bring some of the most notable names to discuss the issues that Moynihan presented in his report immediately after his speech at Howard University in June 1965 (shortly after the Report's publishing).<br><br> Johnson wanted the conference to help promote the ideas of equality within the law as establish in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter Rights Act of 1965, while also finding ways to implement any ideas that delegates proposed. In all of the discussions at the Conference, the only thing that the participants seemed to agree on was that they opposed the ideas of the Moynihan Report. White and black leaders did not like its moral implications, although they all agreed that this was an issue that needed attention.<br><br> Possibly the most beneficial aspect of the Moynihan Report was that it a series of scholarship focusing on the history of the African American family and the current situation that the family exists by historians and sociologists. The research of Herbert professor of history in the Graduate College of the City University of New focused on families in the period before the Civil War in both the north and the south. 1975 work concluded that most black families had two parents and class did not prevent the unification of these Around the same time, John Blassingame, a historian from Yale University, a into slave narratives and their discussions of complete families under slavery while Eugene Genovese, a historian from Boston University, asserted that families and marriages still persisted during slavery even in the harshest of situations In both of these papers, the scholarship evidenced a substantial family system for African Americans.<br><br> In the field of sociology, several studies pointed to points Moynihan fails to acknowledge thoroughly or at all in his report. The study of Jerold Heiss, professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, in 1975, noted that some of the problems with the research done in the past created the assumption that African American families fit certain characteristics without trying to challenge these ideas. In his study, he focused on early age at marriage, family size, female dominance, role segregation, multigenerational households, lower levels of aid from and marital stability.<br><br> For Heiss, these were all of some of the economic and psychological problems within the African American family. Further, there was an inconsistency in the research of the past, and incapability in groups of blaclts and white. He did there were some differences between and white American families, especially when at region and size of homes, but these created no significance change difference in how the black family actually operates.<br><br> 17 Herbert. Myths about the Afro - American Family. " Journal of Interdisciplinary 6,2 (Autumn 1975): 181 - 210.<br><br> Staples, Robert. " Social Structure and Black Family Life: An Analysis of Current Trends. " Journal of Black Studies (March 1987): 267 - 286.<br><br> - 20 - Shortly after the Heiss publication, Robert Staples, a University of California sociology professor, edited a group of essays on the black family (1978). In this group of essays, several issues come to light. First, there was the notion that there were more women than men in the black community, already causing some carol Stack, professor of education and women's studies at the University of California at Berkeley, about the idea that black women had significant power due to this lack of employment opportunities for black men.<br><br> Even if they did not want to leave their husbands or mates, the only way that they could receive benefits from AFDC (Aid For Dependent Children) was to be single. At the same time, as men were not able to get benefits on their own, it was hard for them to contribute financially to the family. While this is the case, Stack argues that the domestic in which these families often allows for contact with grandfathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, all of who can have a role in the lives of these young Staples himself asserts in one of his articles that there is a denial of reciprocal benefits for African Americans, resulting in a lack of services for these families.<br><br> In his view, many of the laws in America impose middle - class values on the low - income world, as evidenced in some of the moral assertions of the Moynihan Report. Staples believed that the reports results had not acknowledged some of the problems at hand but introduced ineffective programs, such as the elimination of welfare benefits for women who have children out of wedlock or the sterilization of Jaquelyne. " But Where Are the Men, " The Black Family: Essays and Studies Second Edition.<br><br> Ed. Robert Staples. Belmont, California, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1978.<br><br> 110 - 1 17. Stack, Carol B. " Sex Roles and Survival Strategies in an Urban Black Community, " The Black Family: Essays and Studies Second Edition.<br><br> Ed. Robert Staples. Belmont, California, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1978.<br><br> 124 - 133; Wilson, William Julius. " The Woes of the Inner - City African American Father, " Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society: Strengths, Weaknesses. and Strategies for Ed.<br><br> Obie Clayton, Ronald B. and David Blackenhorn. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2003.<br><br> women who have more than one illegitimate child. While some progress results of the Civil Rights Act, for Staples, was important that the inequities be identified and reformed. " In a later article in the Staples noted that some issues he raised in 1978 still persist in American society.<br><br> While men were gaining in high school graduation rates, and income for blacks was up and illegitimacy rates were down, there were still some inequities that needed to be recognized. Staples brought to light an important issue, the sexual revolution, and the impact that it had on the relations between African American men and women. As a result of the Women's Rights Movement, women pushed for and gained control of their bodies and sexual destinies while finding a larger space within the American socio - economic landscape.<br><br> It was now important to at how black women had to deal with several factors which continued to act as deterrents in their access to stable men: men in the military, problems specifically affecting blaclc men, and Lee Rainwater, professor of sociology from Harvard University, added to these interesting inquiries in his examination of the ghetto. In his reading, he noted that African American people, although they were often in difficult situations, were not complacent with their lifestyles. They had tried to be proactive and yearned for many of 21 Staples, Robert.<br><br> " Public Policy and the Changing Status of Black Families. " The Black Family: and Studies Second Edition. Ed.<br><br> Robert Staples. Belmont, California, Wadsworth Publishing Inc., 1978. 22 Staples, Robert.<br><br> " Social and Black Family Life: An Analysis of Current Trends. " of Black Studies (March 1987): 267 - 286. Here it is important to acknowledge that these numbers are increasing in all of these groups.<br><br> Staples also mentions the increasing numbers of black homosexuals as a While this may contribute tot her problem, one cannot accurately measure the number of homosexuals that are black and the effects that this has on the African American community. This continues to be a problem in the present day as eviclenced in the last election where the issue of gay marriage divided African Americans, as some felt it threatened the idea of a family. same things that many of the middle class white Americans wanted.<br><br> Again, due to their lack of economic mobility and racial oppression, opportunities to do so were Many of the focal points that Moynihan failed to delve into were on the differences that existed within the African American community. Robert Hill, a senior researcher at Morgan State University, noted in 1971 that one difference began with the fact that African Americans are a subculture. They exhibited strong kinship bonds and tended to have strong work ethics, even in lower class families.<br><br> Despite being on welfare, almost three - fifths of welfare supported black women had jobs, and Hill suggested that these families were egalitarian, rather than In this reality, both of the parents pulled their weight in the house, including household duties and child rearing. Being without a live - in male was not a crisis situation for these women; rather, they accessed empowerment. In 1978, Charles Willie did research with families around the issue of class.<br><br> He chose nine families, randomly dividing them into three socioeconomic categories: middle income, marginal income and low income. In his essay, he described the lifestyles of these families and their toward education and leisure. " In a 23 Rainwater, Lee.<br><br> Behind Ghetto Walls: Black Families in a Federal Slum. Chicago, Aldine Publishing Company, 1975. Hill, Robert B.<br><br> The of Black Families. New York: Emerson Hall Publishers, Inc., 1971. Charles V.<br><br> " The Family and Social Class. " The Black Family: Essays and Studies Second Edition. Ed.<br><br> Robert Staples. Belmont, California, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1978. According to Willie, the middle class most likely deals with two parents who are both educated and who have and well paid).<br><br> They often make between a year and both work to help with the jobs of the family. To these families, the home is their castle, often somewhat extravagant because it shows that are economically successful. In many cases, there is little time for socializing for these adults but they support their children by sure that they have all that they want and need.<br><br> In working class families, the " struggle to survive requires cooperative effort from everyone. " The income range for these families is between six and ten thousand a year and there are usually a slightly larger number of people in the family. To these parents, pride is in providing for the family.<br><br> In most cases, the parents are literate but don't have much education higher than HS, which is the goal that they often set for their children. There are some limited employment opportunities due to racial injustices. At the same time, there is a certain drive that these people have to succeed and make the best of the situation; this is noted especially in their wanting to similar but more focused study, Alice Coner - Edwards and Henry E.<br><br> Edwards focused on defining the black middle class (1988). The researched families were from a diverse pool of occupations, educational backgrounds and financial standings. To these authors, the term " middle - class " was value laden and imposed a certain set of guidelines on African Americans.<br><br> Due to the differences within the black community, Coner - Edwards and Edwards though it was necessary for the alteration of the assignment of someone's class discussed how there were African Americans who were " new money, " recently having secured their financial stability, and there were also African Americans with older, more established economic ties. In these cases, Coner - Edwards and Edwards discussed that these families have channeled all of their energy into their success and were doing whatever they can to make sure that they could succeed. To achieve these standards, they have followed several steps to ensure their success: embracing of dominant culture, belief in ethic; delaying of gratification; strong sense of self and empowerment; sense of importance in the fact of their blackness; and a high quality in their life pursuits.<br><br> While doing all of this, the successful African American families were able to gain mobility, even if it might have had negative aspects on their psychological and familial state of While Moynihan brought several lcey issues to light, there were glaring errors and facts that he glossed over neglected to address. In the years following the own homes to gain some consistency. Lastly, these families usually have a strong sense of morality.<br><br> In lower income families, people must be clever in the way that they live their lives. Morality is often put aside so that the family can live a livable existence. They hope for little and expect for less.<br><br> Due to their status, change is inevitable and they must be prepared for the worst. In terms of education, of these people are grade school to high school dropouts. Willie concludes that there is a common value system in black but as a result of racial inequities, blacks must adapt to the situation at hand.<br><br> Alice F. and Henry E. Edwards.<br><br> " The Black Middle Class: Definition and Demographics. " Black Families in Crisis: The Middle Class. Ed.<br><br> Alice F. Coner - Edwards, and Jeanne M.D. New York: Publishers, 1988.<br><br> 1 - 1 1. Ibid. publishing of his report, many historians, sociologists and researchers began to fill in some of the gaps and expand upon some of the major points of contention and discussion concerning the African American family.<br><br> These post - Moynihan report publications were indicative of contemporary situations at hand. They also dictated what influenced the policies that narrated the dissemblance of the African American family while highlighting some the ways in which these obstacles were fallible. It becomes obvious that a critical issue in the debate as presented is the presence of the African American male and his personal struggles and problems.<br><br> The black male then becomes a crucial part of how we examine the black family and its progress. As mentioned earlier, while it is not crucial to have a father in American society, where these men are and what they are doing greatly affects the image that the rest of Americans hold of the African American family. Statistically, studies prove that these men are the ones headed to jail, unemployed, and out on the streets; it is important how they can change or become accepted within the mainstream American culture.<br><br> At the same time, unlike with the Moynihan Report, when at these television shows, issues of class become a critical part of the conversation. Not all African American families fit his mold of the ideal American family so it is important that we find a space for the families who do not. Wee should evaluate how their class affects the morals and values that these families have, seeing if they are in tune with the moral decay and decline that Moynihan asserts these families continue to face as a result of the socio - economic position and their race.<br><br> By examining these shows, we can a true look into how the African American family presented for popular consumption deals with some of these harsh realities that African American families deal with. Interestingly, it is important to think about how the idea of the American Dream comes into these families lives and how they present themselves in each of their particular situations. Good Times, The and The Cosby Show then become important tools in examining how this place in front of the American public week by week and how they present notions of and the institution of the African American family.<br><br> Chapter 2: Intersections of Race and Class in Good Times, The and The Cosby Show Due to the history of racial injustice and inequity that African Americans encountered, the American Dream was often quite unattainable. For African Americans this racism was not necessarily attributable to a specific person but to the " operation of a social structure in which privilege based on race was firmly inscribed (through the barrier - ridden class system). " " In about this assertion, class became an important narrative in how viewers internalized the images and subject matter in front of them.<br><br> at class - one of the areas in which Moynihan glosses over - could provide insight into the different lifestyles that different African Americans lived as well as how the issues of race came to complicate (or not complicate) their specific situations. To begin this study on the African American family's representation in television, it is important that we breakdown one of Moynihan's points to establish a framework for how we should examine these families experiences - the effect that class has on their status within the African American family narrative at this particular moment in American television history. In these three shows, socio - economic status became a critical way to view their relationship to the idea of the American Dream as well as to their depiction of blackness.<br><br> Due to the fact that these shows were developed for popular consumption, their class depictions could have an extreme impact on how viewers related what they see in front of them to the actual situation of African Americans in society. African American situation comedies then became pivotal, not only because they were Sut and Justin Lewis. Enlightened Racism: The Cosby Show, Audiences, and the Myth of the Dream.<br><br> Boulder: Press, 1992. 72. often and offered exposure to a once marginalized group; they also became the way in which African Americans families received criticism while providing a false view of life, especially for non - black Americans.<br><br> Let the Good Times Roll Norman Lear 7 s Good Times presented viewers with a situation most closely related to the life that Moynihan and others argued was the state of African American family. Living in the projects on the south side of Chicago, the Evans family had to deal with the hardships of unemployment, being poor, and the effects of the changing socio - political landscape of America. In this depiction of the African American family, social ills constantly became the focus of many storylines, showing how deeply class becomes an indicator of their racial and living situations.<br><br> One of the very first indicators of their social status was their physical placement, the projects. In the minds many Americans, the projects was synonymous with tough black ghettos, plagued with crime and debauchery while social and moral code. In placing an African American family in this situation, Lear offered a direct correlation to the populations that Moynihan tried to address in his report.<br><br> This physical placement indicated a certain class and racially based set of ideas in the mind of the viewer. To continue this connection, their home was sparse, their furniture was old and they only had two bedroom, which Thelma occupied while JJ and Michael slept together on the pull out sofa in the living room. In several episodes, the elevator in their building was not worlung so they were forced to walk up to the floor where they lived.<br><br> Sometimes they encountered the hot water not working or the heat not functioning. These troubles were part of their daily existence coming from and living in the projects. All of this pointed to some of the hardships that this physical space confined them to.<br><br> Their physical space also dictated some of the experiences and people that they encountered on a daily basis. One of main people mentioned as a part of their joltes was Ned the Wino, who lived in the gutter and suffered from severe alcoholism. Ned on an interesting role especially in the episodes " Black Jesus, " where JJ used Ned as his subject while painting a black depiction of Jesus and " Springtime in the Ghetto, " where the Evans family cleaned Ned up so that Florida could win a clean apartment competition.<br><br> In both of these episodes, issues of how to deal with the poor and homeless became crucial to the situation that the Evans' lived in. JJ, in using Ned as his subject, made Florida uncomfortable because of what people knew Ned as and the fact that the art work elevated Ned to the level of Jesus. She would rather pray to or look up to an icon that was white, with which she had grown up, than loolt at the picture of Ned the Wino as Jesus This symbolized the idea that one must reject such people as influential in their daily life in the projects.<br><br> Later on, the family had to clean Ned up in order to win the competition. Unbeknownst to them, Ned was the husband of the head of the competition committee and thus the reason why Florida wins; it allowed this woman to bring her husband home now that he was clean. Evidenced here was the idea that despite their class, these people did take pride in their home and that they could not have people who are dirty and living on the streets near their home.<br><br> There was still an element of feeling superior to Ned while at the same time a moral satisfaction when they see what he loolted lilte cleaned up. Almost always associated with life in the projects is crime and gang violence, both of which the show addressed through the character of JJ. When JJ had to participate in a gang fight in " The Gang Part I " and " The Gang Part the viewers not only gained a sense of the pressure that existed to join such an organization, but also, finally get the chance to see the outside of the neighborhood.<br><br> In this shot, we was that it is quite dark and dirty, not what most would consider a safe and happy place to live. Although he did not want to fight, JJ had no choice because he avoided all of the previous fights and because he could easily suffer injury from the gang leader who was bigger than him. In going to the fight, he ran into his parents, who nothing of his affiliation.<br><br> James Sr. tried to keep JJ from going, and in the midst of a scuffle, someone shot JJ in his shoulder. Again, this image of the tough streets around the projects came to light as the Evans' dealt with a shooting, something that was not on the minds of many white American viewers on a regular basis.<br><br> While this physical space plays a crucial role in how we examine the depiction of this family and how their class affects their particular situation, we must also evaluate their actual struggles with money and the changing economic system in which they operated. In the very first episode, " Getting up the Rent, " viewers met a family who was struggling to pay the rent as a result of the father's (James Sr.) lack of employment. With the eviction notice on their door, they must find a way to raise the money to pay the rent, while sure that Florida did not about it, as she was recovering from surgery.<br><br> James only made six dollars after taxes the week before, which surely would not pay the rent for the month. The children were all willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to ensure their apartment, but James Sr. refused the money and wanted to find the money on his own.<br><br> In his mind, he was the one responsible for both the family's being and their of a consistent cash flow. He therefore must be the one to solve the problem. In the midst of this, there was the discussion of going on welfare.<br><br> For Florida, this was unacceptable but she was willing to swallow her pride and do what it if it was the only way to obtain the money that they needed. When she went to apply, the welfare officer told her that James made too much money in the previous year and the family was thus ineligible for benefits. When thinking about Moynihan in comparison to this situation, there are several parallels that come to light.<br><br> First, the idea of the father and his impact on getting welfare benefits did prove to be somewhat true in this particular case. His presence became a roadblock. Despite the fact that James Sr.<br><br> did not make that much money, the notion that every penny counts played into their situation when it came to requesting welfare benefits. Even though this was noted, Florida's ambivalence in going to the welfare office to the willingness of the women whose family had financial hardships to go down and actually obtain welfare benefits. In this case, it was not just a woman who is lazy and did not want to but whose family continued to struggle with the injustices that came about as a result of their race and class.<br><br> On this same note, James Sr. encountered another form of governmental discrimination when he got an interview at a local department store in " Florida's Big Gig. " Mrs.<br><br> Rogers, played by Charlotte Rae, virtually promised him a sales job as she loved everything that he had to offer. When James brought Florida to the interview, Mrs. Rogers had to hire her instead because the company needed more women at the With this as part of the problem, James became a victim of the changing policies that keep him from a job that he was excited about and for which he was qualified.<br><br> Moynihan's moralistic condemnation of these families as a result of their socio - economic status did come under in the show. Previously, scholar Charles Willie tallied about the lower income black family having to put " conventional practices of morality.. .<br><br> aside for expedient arrangements that offer the hope of a livable existence. " " Even though this may have been the case in some areas, Good Times changed the moral view of the African American family while it was under the watchful eye of the American public. In " God's Business is Good Business, " the viewers met James long time friend Reverend Sam (played by Roscoe Lee Browne), a television evangelical preacher who brought his show to Chicago.<br><br> When introducing him, James Sr. recalled that Rev. Sam was a great crapshooter when they were in the army.<br><br> Florida found this whole process and idea to be blasphemous. In her mind, how could a person who claimed to be a man of God console people while their money? Religion was not something that he should take lightly and Florida did not approve of playing with human Even more troubling to Florida was the idea that with all of the money that he made off the black community, he did nothing to benefit their cause, merely perpetuating the poorness of people in similar situations to that of the Evans family.<br><br> He drove into the projects with big new Cadillac and had not found problems with what This could have been a result of Title VII which prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. Due to a lack of women in the past, the company probably needed to increase their numbers of female employees. Charles V.<br><br> " The Black Family and Social Class " The Black Familv: Essavs and Studies Second Edition. Ed. Robert Staples.<br><br> Belmont, California, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1978. 240. 34 This idea is also evidenced in the episode " Black Jesus " as mentioned earlier.<br><br> he was doing. While James Sr. and some of the other members may have foundd this lifestyle appealing, Florida acted as the voice of reason, allowing them to see the ills of this particular scheme; in the end, she was the catalyst for James Sr.<br><br> not the job with Rev. Sam. James could not see himself running a hustle on the premise that many of these poor African Americans people really believe that Rev.<br><br> Sam helped them in this spiritual way. This particular example to the idea of how important a show Good Times could have on a changing popular opinion on African American families in this particular socio - economic situation. As evidenced in the last presidential election, the moral fabric of the family and the American character is a crucial issue and continues to become paramount in how we determine whether or not a specific group suffers from any sort of marginalization.<br><br> Here, the fact that Florida and James overcame their monetary problems showed viewers that there was a possibility for families to value hard - earned money; they were not going on the streets and doing something inappropriate. Both parents constantly told JJ that he should not go out and " find things " any more, as it was not the right way to handle one's life. James' persistence in the job again pointed to this portrayal of an African American family who would not succumb to the temptations that the ghetto might have on people.<br><br> The Evans family made sure to show that despite their situation, they lived a relatively peaceful coexistence with one another. Since I am using Good Times as the first television show in the post - Moynihan era, it is important to one of the points of contention that began the whole Civil Rights Movement: education. As Moynihan pointed out, there was a difference of educational levels within the African American community, which were much greater than that of their white counterparts.<br><br> With Brown v. Board of Education Topeka, Kansas the interest and push for equality in the education system began. In Good Times, the Evans' dealt with some of these problems and changes within the educational system, again highlighting that not all families living in their situation disregarded the importance of a firm education for their children or themselves.<br><br> Young Michael's education became the subject of a couple of episodes; this was especially the case since he wanted to become a Supreme Court Justice. As a result of his intellectual and occupational aspirations, Michael hard in school, which paid off when the principal of his school informed his parents that he was a candidate for busing to a better school district in " If you can read this sign.. While Michael disagreed with what was going on, Florida and James Sr.<br><br> recognized the value that busing can have on Michael's future. Michael boycotts the whole idea by piclteting. Michael also does not show his parents the letter that his school sends and when the school hears no response, the principal comes over to inform Florida and James Sr.<br><br> While it might be a great change for Michael, his father made it clear what a great opportunity this would be for him and explained the value a