Black Marriage Day - set your VCR - 3/04
Smart Marriages ®
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Mon Mar 29 13:00:41 EST 2004
subject: Black Marriage Day - set your VCR - 3/04
from: Smart Marriages®
- BLACK MARRIAGE DAY ON BET
> BET Nightly News is doing a story on Black Marriage tonight (March 29) at
> Nisa Muhammad
- TO HAVE AND TO UPHOLD BLACK MARRIAGES
> Nisa Muhammad and Diann Dawson featured in this article will both present at
> the Smart Marriages Dallas Conference. - diane
The Washington Post
By Courtland Milloy
Monday, March 29, 2004; Page B01
The second annual Black Marriage Day on Saturday included workshops and the
renewal of wedding vows in about 70 cities throughout the United States.
One elementary school class in Atlantic City marked the occasion by staging
a wedding, according to Nisa Muhammad, president of the Wedding Bliss
Foundation and founder of Black Marriage Day.
"The teacher had asked her students to raise their hands if they'd ever been
to a wedding," Muhammad told me. "No one raised their hand. Then she asked
if they knew anybody who was married. And they all said no."
So while the students took on such roles as bride, groom, bridesmaids and
best men, the teacher became the preacher and explained how being married
requires a moral center made up of trust, commitment and fidelity -- that's
what separates husbands and wives from playas and girlfriends, she said.
"We have not shared with this generation what it takes to have a healthy
marriage," Muhammad said. "It takes an understanding of the sweetness of
surrender and the joy in giving up the 'I' for the 'we.' "
At the Everlasting Life Complex in Largo, dozens of singles and couples
showed up for workshops that had such titles as "Breathing New Life Into
Your Relationship" and "Finding Your Soul Mate."
The bottom line: Appreciate your mate for the flawed human being that you
both are, not as a consumer product to be discarded at the first signs of
imperfection; learn to forgive and how to seek forgiveness.
"We treat our cars better than we do our spouses," Muhammad said. "We work
harder on that treadmill at the gym than we do on our relationships."
To help promote Black Marriage Day activities, Muhammad teamed with Diann
Dawson, director of the African American healthy marriage initiative at the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The initiative is part of a plan by the Bush administration to spend $1.5
billion to promote "healthy marriages." Dawson, a career public servant who
has worked for several administrations, agrees with those who question the
role of government in promoting marriage -- but says such intervention is
necessary just the same.
"This ought not be an issue for the government," she said. "Our strongest
institution is the church, and if the church had been doing its job. . ."
The implication was clear.
According to the 2000 Census and 2003 National Center for Health Statistics:
African Americans still have the lowest marriage rates and the highest
divorce rates of any group in the United States; the highest rate of
households headed by single mothers; and the highest rate of births to
unmarried mothers, who constitute the majority of childbearing black women.
"What we have now is an opportunity to find out what makes marriage so
problematic for us," Dawson said. "Why is this phenomenon occurring, whether
the black woman is educated or not?"
How to create healthy marriages may strike some as too personal and complex
to be addressed at some public Black Marriage Day workshop. But such
concerns also might reflect too narrow a view of what marriage is really
"The notion of having a healthy marriage starts with how we see ourselves as
human beings," Dawson said. "You can't talk about healthy marriages without
talking about healthy people, and we aren't very good at taking care of
Forget the obvious physical maladies; Dawson was referring to disease of the
mind and spirit.
"The self image of young black women has fallen to the point where they
greet each other with the 'b' word and say, 'Yeah, you my dawg,' " Dawson
said. "My mother used to say, 'It's not the name they call you, it's the
name you answer to.' Our children are answering to the worst of calls."
More education and training are necessary to teach the importance of
marriage, and also -- in the absence of role models -- how to build
foundations for healthy ones.
"A marriage belongs to a community, and healthy marriages make communities
stronger," Muhammad said. "Communities assume the role of caretakers for our
marriages. The community knows who's cheating; the church knows who's
cheating. The community and the church take responsibility and become true
friends to marriage."
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