Black Pro-Life Students Swim Upstream
By Anne Reed
Black babies are being put to death at an alarming rate. In the context of a culture that secretly consents to abortion as a means of birth control, it takes courage to rise up, speak out, and do something about it.
According to Mark Steele, 25-year-old student chaplain of the first Students for Life group at a historically black university, the difficulties involved with stepping outside cultural demands are worth the reward.
“I do feel like I’m swimming upstream against the culture,” he told AFA Journal. “But I have a passion and love for people, for seeing lives changed. It’s all about saving a soul and saving a life. And, here at Mississippi Valley, we believe in making the world a better place.”
Mississippi Valley State University is a public university located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the northwest part of the state known for its fertile soil, endlessly flat land, rich music culture, and southern charm.
Demographics in the Delta are remarkable. The minority is the majority. And MVSU student body composition (91% black) reflects the area’s distinct culture.
Steele cares deeply about the students at MVSU, but that compassion extends far beyond the Delta. “My parents taught me to love others and to show that love to others,” he explained.
Steele and other pro-life students from MVSU broadened their territory in January when they attended the annual March for Life and SFL conference in Washington, D.C (see image above). For Steele, it was the first time he boarded a plane. And it was the first time a SFL pro-life group from a historically black university attended.
“We went up there and made history,” said Steele. “The pro-choice protestors were kind of getting in our faces. But the police were there as well. So everything went smoothly. We all had freedom of speech. It was a great experience.”
The average black woman is five times more likely to have an abortion than the average white woman. Statistically, 28% of pregnancies to black women end in abortion.
Contributing factors are many. Minorities have been targeted since 1916 when Margaret Sanger founded the first birth control clinic, the organization that later became Planned Parenthood. She promoted contraceptives to eliminate what she called “racial problems.”
Through the 1939 Negro Project, she recruited black ministers to convince their parishioners to utilize birth control.
“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” Sanger admitted, “and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea.”
Today, abortion clinics are most often strategically located in areas adjacent to concentrations of black population, and minority women are targeted through social media and other forms of advertisement – sometimes using scare tactics.
A 2017 Twitter post by Planned Parenthood claimed:
“If you’re a black woman in America, it’s statistically safer to have an abortion than to carry a pregnancy to term or give birth #ScaryStats.”
Fatherlessness is rampant in the black community. According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2016, 66% of black children live in a home with only one unmarried parent – usually the mother.
And according to the Centers for Disease Control, unmarried women account for 86% of all abortions. Abortion and noncommittal behaviors are intertwined, maintaining a vicious cycle that continues to detrimentally harm children and adults as it breaks down family structure, the backbone of a society.
A Committed Few
Elizabeth Parker serves as SFL national minority coordinator. In addition to her work in middle schools, high schools, and colleges in the Appalachian region, she works on a national level to educate and equip black colleges, universities, and communities.
“This is a national position that has been created because SFL has recognized the need to access the black communities,” Parker explained to AFA Journal. “This is something SFL leaders have been thinking about from day one. But now we have strategies in place to help us accomplish it effectively.
“I did not expect the bond I would have with these students as I have begun to work with them – to see the light come on for those who have never been interested in the pro-life movement. And for those who are already established, I can bring the minority perspective so they can become even more set on fire.”
The students are thoroughly trained in pro-life apologetics so they are prepared to respectfully and intelligently engage others, including protestors and those in positions of authority.
“We’re not there to argue them down,” explained Parker. “Some have the idea that the pro-life movement’s movers and shakers are hostile. But we try to win the person, not the argument.”
Students and their families are taught how to partner with pregnancy resource centers and other support services, how to hold events and engage their communities. They are trained concerning their legal rights and provided free legal counsel if necessary.
While Parker has been pleasantly surprised by the reception at historically black universities and colleges, she has met considerable resistance in her attempts to engage protestant pastors and churches.
“We will be screening the Gosnell film on 75 campuses across the country,” explained Parker. “I wanted a local church to engage by holding a screening in their church. It was difficult to find a church that would do it. There are churches that have adoptive and foster care ministries. And that is great, but they won’t touch the topic of abortion.”
More about SFL
▶ Prayer and intercession are essential as students engage in spiritual warfare.
▶ Letters of encouragement can be sent to SFL and shared with students at points of need.
▶ Financial support enables SFL to provide all materials and training to students at no cost.
Students for Life
4755 Jefferson Davis Highway
Fredericksburg, VA 22408