Thursday, August 6, 2009

Help for Single Parents of African American Boys

Raising successful black boys alone, but not without help


By Donna M Owens

David Miller is a man on a mission. Simply put, he wants single mothers who are raising sons to know they're not alone.
So the former public school teacher - a co-founder of the youth-focused Urban Leadership Institute in Baltimore - has developed an ambitious national campaign called "Raising Him Alone." It's designed to help single mothers and their sons by providing a network of resources, advocacy and access to community-based services.
Since launching the initiative back in April, Miller has reached out to predominately African American audiences across the country, via workshops, seminars, online initiatives and more. Several celebrity moms have joined the crusade, including Dr. Mahalia Hines, a Chicago educator whose son is the rapper/actor, Common; and Sheron Smith, mother of entertainer, Mos Def.
"We have been to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other places, meeting both single mothers and grandmothers, because a lot of women are raising their grandchildren," said Miller, 41, a married father of three, with one son. "The experience has been fulfilling, but extremely alarming ... An inordinate number of women are raising boys alone. Their sons have no contact with their fathers, or the contact is sporadic or minimal at best."
According to Miller, the mothers he's met hail from a myriad social and economic backgrounds, and don't fit easy stereotypes. Some are have always been single, others are separated or divorced. A good many are educated, professional women, he notes, who have found themselves without the partners they believed would be around to co-parent their sons.
"Some of these sisters thought they would be married or with someone for the rest of their lives," he said. "Most never dreamed that they would be raising their children alone."
"Raising Him Alone" is funded by the Open Society Institute and its Campaign for Black Male Achievement. The organization has earmarked $12 million dollars over the next several years to address issues related to black boys and men.

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