NationalWilliam J. Ford

Black Dads Continue to Persevere and Love Their Children

Families Prepare to Celebrate Father's Day on June 20

When looking up the word “dad” on a Google search, white faces appear in the first series of images, leading many to wonder why Black fathers fail to be presented in equal proportion in photos that illustrate parental love and support.

But we found several fathers anxious to discuss the upcoming day when Americans pause to celebrate dads and who willingly replied to the question, “What does Father’s Day mean to you?”

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, a father with three adult children, constantly travels the state for various functions and said he’s looking forward to spending a quiet day at home this Father’s Day.

“For those of us who are married, [the] wife will often ask you ‘what do you want for dinner?’ I’m pretty simple when it comes to it. My favorite meal is fried chicken. That’s what I ask for,” he said on the newspaper’s online WIN-TV program Friday, June 11.

“Other than that … just the quiet time where I am not necessarily doing something. Even though you sit around for a while, you see something that you need to do and you just start doing it but at least it’s because I wanted to, versus I had to,” he said.

Two other fathers, James Dula of Clinton and Sinclair Bayard Sr. of Camp Springs, have celebrated the special day for years.

Dula, a longtime community activist and former president of the South County Democratic Club, has one daughter, age 46.

Bayard, a health coach with Freqwake Health Solutions, maintains sole custody of his two daughters, ages 14 and 12. Because the girls stay with their biological mom every summer, they’ve only spent Father’s Day with their dad two of the last 10 years.

As for Devon Holmes, 37, an HVAC consultant from White Plains in Charles County, this year marks his very first Father’s Day after his wife gave birth May 7 to their son, Devon Holmes Jr.

“For Father’s Day, don’t give me no necktie,” he said laughing. “You can cook me breakfast.”

While the D.C. region tries to regain a semblance of normalcy as health officials continue battling the still deadly coronavirus pandemic, our featured fathers, Holmes, Bayard and Dula, shared their own words of advice on how to safely celebrate “their day.”

Holmes: Father for the First Time

“I’m number five of seven kids. I learned a lot from my father. Once my son was born, the first thing I was thinking [when] he was in the hospital warming tray, I get to teach everything my father taught me to this little guy. It took me a minute to really just sit down and think how much my father provided for us.”

“He was always there. He taught us everything as far as how to be a man. He especially taught us about being a Black man in this society. He told us pretty much the pros and cons of what we were going to experience growing up. He made sure we did anything we wanted to do in life but he made sure we had a backup plan just in case things didn’t work out.”

“I had things I wanted to do but apparently it wasn’t God’s plan. I picked up a trade and it was a trade [at which my father] is a master. Everything kind of worked out. And it was a blessing because I was able to work during the pandemic. Little things like that my father instilled in me at a young age — all that stuff I get to just flood over this little boy as the years go on. It’s just a surreal feeling.”

Bayard: Breaks the Norm as a Single Father 

“Father’s Day to me is a very special day because I don’t normally get to celebrate it with my daughters, unless there’s like a Nor’easter or something that changes [and extends] the school schedule so that they’re still here with me.”

“I get Father’s Day every day. I treat every day like a special day. Some people look for that one grain of rice. I got a whole bowl. I got my daughters all the time. The Holy Spirit really hit me about doing something for my father that I just wasn’t in the place to do before. It was really on my heart to do that — to send him pictures of my daughters over the last couple of years because he lives in South Carolina. He was like, ‘I would just like to have some pictures.’”

Sinclair Bayard Sr. with his two daughters, Aleisha (left), 12, and Ashleigh, 14. (Photo courtesy of Janna Parker)
Sinclair Bayard Sr. with his two daughters, Aleisha (left), 12, and Ashleigh, 14. (Photo courtesy of Janna Parker)

“Most people ask for pictures and then you just send the pictures. They’ve got to find frames. I went and got the frames, put [the pictures] in frames, put them in a box and sent them to my dad. He received it [Friday] and he called me. He was like, ‘You gave me the biggest reason to smile today. I just want to say thank you for what you did because I received my granddaughters’ pictures and I can just hang them up.’”

“Father’s Day to me is about appreciating the significance of the sacrifice and the attention as a father should.”

Dula: Seasoned Father Mentors Others 

“I have mentored and still mentor fathers. For a while I chaired The Fatherhood Initiative here [Prince George’s County] for a few years. My message to fathers was always to make sure you listen to your children. Never give up on them. I taught at Crossland High School for five years. Whenever parents came to me and said, ‘Dr. Dula, you talk to him because I can’t talk to him anymore,’ I encouraged them to listen to what their child or children had to say because eventually they would listen to their parents.”

“I never had a parent come back and say it didn’t work. Take them to McDonald’s. Sit down. Buy them a hamburger. You don’t have to do a lot of talking. Just be there in the presence of your child. Eventually, they get comfortable enough to be able to speak with you. When they see that you’re listening, to them that means that you care.”

James Dula with his daughter, Tonya Dula Clayon, and his wife, Phyllis. (Photo courtesy of James Dula)
James Dula with his daughter, Tonya Dula Clayon, and his wife, Phyllis. (Photo courtesy of James Dula)

“I can say I am very proud of my daughter because she’s at the FDA and has been in the middle of this COVID-19 thing between the White House and the FDA. We know that she got her work ethics and commitment to service for others from her mother and me.”

“I’m retired Air Force and she’s a retired civilian from the Coast Guard. She always saw us doing things. I always found time to sit her down at a park or at a McDonald’s and just be there. I learned a lot more than I ever thought I would. That’s my thing to fathers. Listen to your child and lead by example.

Editor’s Note: For those who wonder why Sinclair Bayard, Sr. is named as such but does not have a son who would be named Bayard, Jr., it appears his mother named him that way. She wanted to claim that he would have a son. Now, he’s hoping that he and his girlfriend, Janna Parker, will make that happen soon.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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