Couples Renew Vows for Black Marriage Day

Can a day celebrating matrimony, and maybe even the Obamas, encourage more African Americans to get hitched?

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For many black Americans, putting a ring on it just isn't a priority. Close to 42 percent of African American adults have never been married, and by their early 40s, 31 percent of black women have never been wives, compared with 9 percent of white women, 11 percent of Asian women, and 12 percent of Hispanic women. 

But, in a show of support for black matrimony, African American couples in cities across the country are renewing their vows in honor of Black Marriage Day and encouraging others in committed relationships to head to the altar, too.

Organizers of the March 28 observance are hoping that this year, the loving union of President Barack Obama and the First Lady will inspire other African American couples to put marriage before the baby carriage.

According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau reports, black females ages 35 to 44 are the only American women in their child-bearing years with lower marriage rates than men of the same race or ethnicity. By their early 40s, 31 percent of black women have never been wives, whereas 9 percent of white women, 11 percent of Asian women and 12 percent of Hispanic women have never been married.

The outlook for the traditional family is also bleaker for black Texans, who have the state's highest divorce and out-of-wedlock birth rates, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services figures.

So why aren't black people getting or staying married?

Marriage advocates and relationship researchers in the Houston area say the answer has multiple layers.

“African-Americans are on the forefront of an overall retreat from marriage,” said Holly Heard, a Rice University sociology professor, who noted that income and education are “highly predictive” factors of matrimony. “African-Americans are more likely to be poor and less likely to have a college degree. There's also some concern about [gender] ratios and fewer marriageable black men.”

Source: Houston Chronicle