Film Highlights Single Motherhood in African American Community


Rachel Miller-Bradshaw’s film “On 
My Own” documents the lack of presence
of fathers in the African American community.

On Aug. 16, the Queens Library Central branch will screen the film, “On My Own,” a documentary about the lack of the presence of fathers in the African American community.

The film was documented by Rachel Miller-Bradshaw, CEO of Little Harriet Productions and a filmmaker who has produced for New York 1 News, Bill Moyers Journal and Transit Transit News Magazine. Bradshaw grew up in Harlem, where she experienced first-hand what it is like to live in an environment where the father figure is absent.

“I grew up in Harlem during the time when…there weren’t [a lot of] fathers at home…after my mother and father divorced, [I] witnessed my mother struggle to raise four children on her own,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve kind of always had the idea to address family.”

That idea became substantial when a high school friend told her that the father of her child was not being responsible for his child. When her friend asked him about it, his response was, “I know you got it.”

It was at this point that Bradshaw realized that in the African American community, there is a longstanding mindset that it is okay for fathers to not be a part of the family.

After her epiphany, she began to reach out to several organizations, such as the Forestdale Fathering Initiative, and created a national conversation about the importance of the initiative and what needs to be done.

Bradshaw said the creation of the film was a long journey. She started the film in 2008 but due to a lack of funding, put it to rest for a year, but picked it back up in late 2009 to start the research. She said it took a total of five years to complete.

The film has four social themes. It looks into marriage, the definition of fatherhood, speaking to fathers to let them know that their time is just as valuable as their money, as well as asking women to make better choices in terms of their partners and looking into ways of preventing early motherhood.

Bradshaw said that it is important for people to mature before getting married and having children.

“Individuals need time to mature, people are getting married between 30 and 40…the film is trying to tell woman that early motherhood is not the best thing,” she said.

But more than preventing early motherhood, the film also asks mothers to train their children.

“Changing this problem begins with single mothers. I don’t believe a woman can teach a man how to be a man,” Bradshaw said. “A woman can teach their son how to not make the same mistakes [as his father]; a single mother can teach their daughter on how to respect themselves.”

Bradshaw also called on legislators and councilmembers to know what is going on in terms of the families in their communities. She said that legislators must be aware of single families and give grants on family improvements.

“[We] need more councilmembers talking about this, legislators need to know what is going on as far as single family, need to know how many single mothers there are,” she added. “A weak family structure equals a weak community. [We] have to keep leaning on legislators.”

Bradshaw is planning on making another film that will continue along the same lines but focus more on a solution for the social conflict in the African American community. She is proud of the success that “On My Own” received by being featured on blogs, websites as well as NY1.

She invites anyone to the screening of the film at the Queens Library Central branch. The screening room can seat 200 people and starts at 2 p.m. in the library’s auditorium. The library is located at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica. For more information about “On My Own” or about Bradshaw and her company Little Harriet Productions, visit, email or follow the company on twitter

— Esther Shittu

See the trailer here:

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