As the world starts to regain some type of normality, we will never forget the recording of a Black father being choked to death by the knee of an officer–while he calls out for his mother. Or, witnessing loved ones crying from the death of their fathers, brothers, uncles, and/or grandfathers passing from COVID-19, not being able to console each either has retaught us to take joy in the simple pleasures of life. This Father’s Day we honor Black men and the powerful influence that Black fatherhood has on the world.

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Dear Black Man:

Fatherhood is but a piece of our lives. A very unique and tailored piece that we can share in common. Yes, I’m aware that fatherhood is difficult. But so is being yourself. Oddly enough, fatherhood is just that – being yourself! Be mindful that there are little ones watching your every move. Not to judge you, but to be just like you. You are their example.

So the challenge for us becomes, what do we want our young ones to see?

We want our young ones to see our smiles, and hear our laughter. We want them to see us work. We want them to see us think through problems. To see us struggle, think and push through until successful. We want them to see us caring for others. We want them to see us cry, and feel, and understand. We want them to see us rest.

We want them to see how we handle frustrating situations. We want them to see us build things. We want them to see us take care of our homes, cut the grass, plant flowers. We want them to see us love their mothers. We want them to see us being us.

Coming from a son, who is now a father of three, I can tell you, the perfect dad is the one who is always striving to be himself, and be his best self in front of his children.

Be yourself. Get better everyday. Expose yourself to new things so you can help expose your young ones.

And stop, I repeat, stop beating yourself up.

You are amazing. You are loved. You are strong. And you will be a great father. Keep working at it. Keep working at it. Keep working at it, and don’t let anyone try and take it away from you.

A father’s love is in high demand and you have what it takes.

—-Kelsey Maynor

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Richard Dunn

Culture, Community, and Commerce Strategist

What is the Power of Black Fatherhood?

The power of Black Fatherhood is the ability to break generational curse but also the ability to heal generational trauma and live in the blessing of legacy.

Describe  your childhood with the most influential man in your life?

My childhood was filled with men that allowed me to be comfortable from Bankhead to Buckhead. Because of both of my grandfathers and my father I was taught the importance of education, hard work, and knew that every room I enter into I belong there. More importantly, I am in this room or at this table for a reason.

What life lesson have you learned in your life that you hope will stay in your bloodline for generations to come? 

Legacy is important. We must always leave something behind for the next generation to grow from and build on.

Tell me about the day you became a father…

I got the phone call and all I could say was “Let me call you back.” I took and took a nap. Woke up and realized my life was/is changed forever, and moved forward knowing I was responsible for another person.

What is needed most right now as a Black Father in America?

Transparency.

What is your deepest wound as a Black Man? Have you healed? 

I believe my deepest wound is not having my grandfather and father in close proximity during pivotal times in my life. I know that they were a phone call away, but it would have been good to have them be able to just  pull up.

Besides absenteeism, What is the biggest myth about Black fathers?

That Black fathers are not good fathers. There are alot of fathers that have shown up for their children in every way possible. They show up mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I wish that was talked about and shared more.

Describe your dad in one word and Why?

That’s my “Patna!” I can tell him anything. Things that I don’t even feel comfortable telling a preacher, I tell my father.
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Odie Donald II

City Administrator of The City of Augusta 

What is the Power of Black Fatherhood? 

Black Fathers are the backbone of the family and the community. It’s a position of Leadership. One of support, admiration, and respect in the Black family.

Describe  your childhood with your father?

I think I have the best father in the world. The only comparison that I can give for my father is between my Dad and Jesus. My father was my entry point into sports, music, and the community. He taught me the importance of legacy. I loved and will always remember the lessons my father taught me.

What life lesson have you learned in your life that you hope will stay in your bloodline for generations to come? 

That there is nothing that you can provide or do for your family or community that will not have an impact on the future.

What are Black fathers longing for the most in America?

Opportunity and Respect.

Tell me about the day you found out you were going to be a father? 

I was ending my basketball career in business school and just got a promotion on my job. It was a great day. As I was bringing home the news of my advance in my career–I was given the news that I was also growing my family. The same feeling of joy and excitement happened when I found out I was having my second child-my son.

What advice would you give to Black fathers need right now? 

Tell the truth. And understanding that you don’t have to get everything right. The journey is a long one–and you can only do your best.

Besides absenteeism, What is the biggest myth about Black fathers? 

There are a ton of myths. I don’t think about them. I think about the great things that Black fathers do. The great things I was exposed to by my father being there, and I think Black fathers do that more often than it gets talked about. Black fathers are the coundits for a lot of amazing things their children get exposed to in this world.

Describe your father in one word. And why?

Hero. That’s what he has been to me. I don’t know if I would ever measure up but he is definitely a great measuring stick, community servant, leader, friend. I just hope that one day I will do the same.

The scariest yet most beneficial thing fatherhood has taught you? 

The scariest thing is leaving the hospital and not knowing what to do. But, when my children looked at me they knew I was going to be there. It taught me to step up to any any and all life challenges.

What is something that you rarely express about being a Black man and father?

“The good pressure” as a father I want to always set a good example for my children. Although, I don’t talk about it a lot. It’s extremely important.

How would you describe “partnership” to your children?  

Accountability.

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Kelsey Maynor

Author, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist

What is the Power of Black Fatherhood? 

As a father of three, I believe the power of Black fatherhood is knowing that it is all mental. And to keep growing, smiling and being a positive influence within their community– so that my children can see him being happy.

Besides absenteeism, What is the biggest myth about Black fathers? 

That money solves everything. As a father my relationships are important. I want my children to benefit from my relationships.

Describe your father in one word. And why?

Stern, in all aspects. He was military. As I grew up I started to appreciate who he is as a man and father and his stren character made him unweaving.

What life lesson have you learned in your life that you hope will stay in your bloodline for generations to come?

Be a kindhearted leader, not just in your family but in your community.

What is your deepest wound as a Black Man? Have you healed? 

Growing up, I saw my dad’s temper and frustration. And when I found myself  back at home from a break up. I had to confront my dad about my hurt. Telling my dad that the thing (his temper)  I dislike about him–is also what i dislike about myself (because I got it from him). I healed right there in that moment, in the bathroom of my childhood home with my dad.

What is the best way for Black men to support Black men and Fathers? 

Mentorship. I think that we can all use mentorship in both our professional and personal lives.

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Ricky McKenzie

Commercial Real Estate Investor

What is the Power of Black Fatherhood? 

The power of Black Fatherhood is gaining the mental capacity to fight for your children when you desire to be in their lives.

What is your advice to Black Fathers? 

Be There. No matter what anyone says (including your child) be present.

Describe your dad in one word? 

Determined. He came to the States when he was in his 40s and he was able to make a life for all eight of his children while getting his education. He passed aways fourteen years ago, however I now know he was determined to give us the best life possible.

What life lesson have you learned in your life that you hope will stay in your bloodline for generations to come? 

Education–Get an education. And keep good company.

Describe childhood with your father…

It wasn’t very fun because my father was an outside love child and he didn’t get a lot of love from his father. My father just didn’t know how to say he loved us–so he showed it in his own way.

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Chris Heath

Transportation Supervisor and Football Coach at Carver High School

What is The Power of Black Fatherhood? 

Can change the world. It has changed the world.  What our children see in us, in very thing you do that sees and it changes the world.

Describe your Father in one word? 

Ever present: He was there every day.

What is one life lesson that always reminds you to move forward as a Black Father and man?

A life lesson I take with me everywhere is that the Black man is the strongest human on the planet. And that you can be whatever you want to be, I saw that possibility  through my dad.

Why do you coach in the inner city?

To connect with young Black men. To know that I poured into young Black men love, discipline, encouragement everyday. Giving them the same game my dad gave me–and what I am also giving my two sons.

How do you balance your mental health as a Black man and father? 

I express myself freely. I talk to people that  I am comfortable with to release and talk to. I also believe in therapy. Be vulnerable, talk things out.

What is your deepest wound? Have you healed? 

I can’t think of a wound that I haven’t recovered from. However, I know that I don’t have a lot of wounds because I had my father. My father was honest and open with me about life (as a Black man).

What is the main connection with your students? 

My students know that I am going to be there for them. They see me on social media with my children, because I want them to see that I am there for my children and I’ll also be there for them in that same manner.

Besides absenteeism, What is the biggest myth about Black fathers? 

Black men being hyper sexual, and that Black men are afraid to commit.

What is the best way for Black men to support Black men and Fathers? 

Getting into a circle where Black men can come together and be honest and vulnerable.

How did you feel when you found out you were becoming a father? 

I was overjoyed, because my wife and I had experienced two miscarriages in one year. So, to get the news that I was having a child on my birthday. It was the best gift-I was praying for this blessing.

What other man do you admire the most outside your dad? 

My older brother. I just watched him as he matured in life. Although he is only 18 months older than me, I still look up to him. My Mt. Rushmore would be: My dad, both my grandfathers, and my brother.

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Carlos York

Photographer and Author

Describe your dad in one word and why? 

Absent. I have never met my dad. Never seen a picture of him. Never talk to him.

Describe your childhood with your father or father figure? 

I grew up in Mississippi with my Grandfather was beautiful. The last thing my grandfather said to me before he passed away though all his pain was “You are one cool dude” that really describes my childhood and relationship with my Grandfather.

How can society assist Black men and fathers? 

Create spaces where Black men can be vulnerable. And express our honest feelings. Society should be open to hearing BLack men-fully.

Tell us about the day you found out you were going to be a father…

It was an amazing feeling because I am the last person in my friend group to have a child. And it made it even better when I found out that I was having a daughter. I always wanted a daughter.

What life lesson have you learned in your life that you hope will stay in your bloodline for generations to come? 

Resilience. After 2020 and thinking back over the years. We have all come through alot and we are still here.

What is the deepest wound that you carry? Have you healed? 

I made a horrible decision to drink and drive. Ended up in jail and had to call my family to come and get me. I felt and still feel like I let my daughter down. I learned that I have to make better decisions.

Besides absenteeism, What is the biggest myth about Black fathers? 

Is that Black fathers are stronger than what we really are.

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Osei Kweku

Media Maverick, Advocate for Black Fathers

What is the power of Black Fatherhood?

Turning water into wine at every turn. Almost seemingly all the time doing the impossible.

Describe your father in one word. And why?

Diplomatic. My father is a physician. He had to be honest and real but still uphold his bedside manner. Seeing him with people and the way that they respect him in the Black community, taught me how important it is and was to learn to be diplomatic.

Besides absenteeism, What is the biggest myth about Black fathers? 

That money is more important than his time and the ability to engage his child.

Who were some of your father figures growing up? 

My uncles were the first men I encountered growing up, outside of my father. I watch their sacrifices and their love for all of us as a family. I learned how to sacrifice today for those that will benefit tomorrow.

What is your deepest wound as a Black Man? Have you healed? 

Growing up as a first generation African in America, and not having a level of comfort to speak to my father about being bullied and having to fight everyday in grade school, because I didn’t want to disappoint my father.. Healing to me is continuing to talk about it. Each time I talk about it it helps with the healing process.

What is the best way for Black men to support other Black men and Fathers? 

Through Fellowship. The saying goes “God doesn’t send you a blessing falling from the sky-God sends people” And when we are in fellowship talk to each other in a way that we are uplifting one another.

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