The Black Panther, 1966-2016

The Moynihan Report

It is important to note, too, that Hoover’s mission to extinguish the BPP did not unfold in a vacuum, but rather, was closely tied to contemporary national discourses that worked to delegitimize working-class Black families. Largely fueling this discourse was a 1965 study published by the U.S. Department of Labor, known as The Moynihan Report. Led by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in collaboration with a team of researchers, the report drew on a collection of sociological and historical data to investigate the causes of the decade’s rise in both racialized violence, and high unemployment rates particularly among Black men and male youth, in U.S. cities. While Moynihan envisioned the study as a prescriptive model for ameliorating these socio-economic trends, the report’s use of coded language, particularly along the lines of race, class, and gender, was more damning and accusatory than constructive. Specifically, Moynihan argued that matriarchal family models crippled the social and economic progress of Black men and male youth, and by doing so, castigated Black mothers as unfit heads of household.[1] Though the study was not widely publicized until late August 1965, it sparked a wave of critiques among academics and activists alike, many of whom highlighted Moynihan’s patholocization of black matriarchal family structures as a racist, classist, sexist, and overall, ahistorical reading of Black families.[2]
[1] Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. U.S. (Washington: Department of Labor, Office of Policy Planning and Research, 1965).
[2] Steve Estes, I Am a Man!: Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 116. 

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