Last weekend provided several golden opportunities for Black fathers to step into the spotlight and receive their rightful accolades for the often-overlooked sacrifices and contributions that they make day after day on behalf of their children.
Recent statistics including reports from the Nation Fatherhood Clearing House indicate that Black fathers, contrary to stereotypes which cast them in a negative light, are more involved in the lives of their children than dads of any other ethnic group in the U.S. And it doesn’t matter if these fathers live with their children or not.
However, the triumphs achieved by Black fathers are rarely captured by mainstream publications or televised news programs. Instead, the stories that get the most attention are the failures of Black dads.
Thankfully, two brothers from D.C., reflecting on the positive influence their own fathers had on their lives, took the lead in developing events that celebrated Black fathers.
Chuck Hicks, chair of the D.C. Black History Celebration Committee, organized a “Black Fathers Matter” motorcade on Sunday which featured Black fathers waving to family members and friends along the route who hoisted signs above their heads and shouted their approval.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Franklyn M. Malone, founder and CEO of 100 Fathers Inc., engineered a three-day event, “Fathers of Faith,” which served as both a memorial and celebration of Black fathers with zoom events that included a fathers of the year program and a Sunday message of faith for fathers.
Both Hicks and Malone agree that modeling more appropriate behavior is key to helping young fathers become more responsible and comfortable with fatherhood. Their belief is backed by Dr. Waldo E. Johnson, Jr, associate professor at the School of Social Service and Administration, University of Chicago, whose highly-regarded research on young Black males also shows that they better handle the responsibility of fatherhood when they have an example whose behavior they can follow.
“Over the last two decades, the increasing research we’ve done demonstrates that even nonresidential Black fathers are involved in the lives of their children — even if the ways they do it may look different and take on various forms,” Johnson said.
He further noted that while the numbers are similar in terms of Black or white fathers who do not live with their children, it’s Black dads who tend to be unfairly considered as totally uninvolved or deadbeats.
The District is fortunate to have men like Hicks and Malone, among so many others, who are challenging the stereotypes and providing the means for young fathers to learn the ropes for the betterment of their children.