By Joel Hall
Since its inception a few years ago, the Clayton County Marriage and Family Initiative has tasked itself with combating divorce and the community problems associated with broken families.
Next Saturday, the organization will turn its focus toward the black community in honor of the Sixth Annual National Black Marriage Day.
On March 29, from 3-5 p.m., at the Clayton County International Park VIP Building, the Marriage and Family Initiative will join more than 200 cities around the country in promoting healthy marriages in the black community. Nearly 100 couples are expected to renew their vows, and couples will receive encouragement and advice on keeping their marriages strong.
"One of the struggles of Clayton County has been that we have a young population ... that is not married and does not understand the importance of marriage," said Mimi Holland, chair of the Marriage and Family Initiative. "In communities where there is a predominance of healthy marriages ... there is less poverty, less crime, higher school achievement ..."
Holland said in the mid-1960s, 70 percent of black families in America were two-parent households, and today the number is only 37 percent. She suspects the number of two-parent households is even less in Clayton County.
"The African-American community is really starting to understand the problem and is wanting to fight back," said Holland.
The event will include a dinner, music, door prizes, and commentary from state Rep. Mike Glanton, and John Dewberry, pastor of Community Bible Fellowship Church in Hampton.
Shenita Scott, co-chair of the event, said the goal is to "re-ignite a positive message about marriages in the black community.
"When I was growing up, everybody around me was married," said Scott. "Today, when you talk about marriage in any environment, it is not as positive. We have got to do something to improve the image.
"With so many single parents and children being raised without their fathers, there are certainly a lot of missing links in terms of values," Scott added. She said educating people on the importance of marriage would create healthier home environments and work toward lowering crime.
"We're just encouraging people to hang in there," said Dewberry.
"You have to understand that you leave a legacy," Dewberry added. "You are either going to leave a legacy of a broken home, or the legacy of a healthy home."
Tickets to the event are $10. For more information, call Shenita Scott at (404) 429-8288.