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The title of my Essay is Religion, Education, and the Primacy of Family. Enola Aird, in her excellent remarks, has set out the challenges to the family in general, and to the African-American family in particular. She has laid out the dire statistics, and explained why the family needs to be rebuilt if African America is to survive and thrive. She has also set out a path to begin the task of rebuilding, in the African-American community, the ability to love ourselves—an ability largely crushed by two centuries of slavery and another of Jim Crow. I agree with her that no other path will lead to the desperately needed regeneration.
Having said that, I wish to take the conversation in a slightly different direction. I will focus in my remarks on what have been historically the sustaining pillars of the African-American community, and how threats from across the political spectrum are systematically undermining them.
African America, since the days of slavery, has been sustained largely by two institutions: the family and the black church. Aird has talked a great deal about the family. I will talk a little about the family, but, mostly, I will focus on the interaction between the African-American family and the African-American church.
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