Mr. Harper graduated magna cum laude as valedictorian of his department with a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and cum laude with a Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree with honors from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and has Honorary Doctoral Degrees from Winston-Salem State University, Cheyney University, Westfield State College, Tougaloo College, Dillard University and Howard University. Mr. Harper travels frequently as a motivational speaker, addressing a wide range of audiences, including youth, adults, couples, and business leaders.
Your book, The Conversation, addresses the tumultuous relationships between men and women in the African American community. What do you feel is the community’s biggest problem regarding the lack of long-lasting relationships?
I think our biggest problem is lack of real, honest communication between Black men and Black women. A lot of men talk amongst men, and a lot of women speak amongst women. I believe that in order to solve the issues, we have to start speaking to each other.
Why should people read your book? What do you feel you have to offer others as a single, unmarried man?
Part of the book is me reflecting on my own journey and asking if I am actually a part of the problem as a single man. It’s a self-exploration that broadens as I interview others. The Conversation will hopefully touch on issues that will move people to want to strengthen communication and look to each other for solutions. I think a lot of relationship books are written from the standpoint of “Here are the rules: if you do this, or follow this rule you can get a man….(etc.)” But they ignore answering the fundamental questions: “What are the roots of the problem? And what is really going on between Black men and Black women?”
How do you see the African-American community changing over the next few years in terms of relationships?
Only 30% of African-American children are being raised in two-parent households. Once we put a stop to this climb on the increase in single-parent households, we can see relationships changing. At least we know we’re attempting a partnership and that’s the beginning.
The more conversations, the more friendships and lasting relationships can result.