Conference promotes benefits of marriage in black community

ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 22, 2014 

Lyndon Burch hears all of the negative statistics about black youths in prison, single-mother homes, generational poverty and children doing poorly in school.

So he started Black Marriage Day in Columbus four years ago in hopes it could help build a stronger community.

Today, he will continue his campaign with a Power of Marriage Conference at the Girls Inc. Baker Center, 3535 Levy Road. The event, organized by the Tri-Cities and the Columbus area Family and Marriage Education Group, will begin at 8:30 a.m. and feature various local speakers. Eight couples will also be inducted into the Tri-Cities Black Marriage Hall of Fame.

The weekend was originally supposed to be a two-day event with Harold Arnold, president of Philadelphia-based Discovering Family International, as guest speaker today, and an appearance by Judge Lynn Toler of TV's "Divorce Court" at a Sunday Hall of Fame dinner. But those plans were canceled earlier this week because sponsorships didn't materialize, Burch said. Still, he hopes to have a successful one-day event.

"The focus on black marriage is because we want to cherish the marriages of yesteryear, celebrate the marriages of today and encourage healthy marriages and relationships for tomorrow," he said. "The focus is because our community is disintegrating right in front of our eyes because of the lack of marriage and the family foundation.

"When you look at our prison population, we find that most of the crimes are committed by people that come from single-family households where their parents never married," he added. "And we feel that if we focus on having more families, there will be an outcome of children doing better in school and less behavior problems."

More than half of black children live in single-parent homes, according statistics on Tri-Cities Black Marriage website. Nearly 70 percent of them are born out of wedlock, and 80 percent of prisoners come from single-parent households.

Yet, according to information provide by, marriage reduces poverty for families of all races. Among blacks, nearly 40 percent of those living in poverty were non-married and only 13 percent were married.

"Even when studies control for a wide range of variables, they consistently find that married black adults, compared to those who are unmarried, have more income, are less likely to face poverty and are more likely to be happy," according to the Tri-cities Black Hall of Fame website. "Marriage also appears to promote better family functioning."

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