Here in America, there has been a long-running discussion behind who should and shouldn’t be celebrated on Father’s Day. When it comes to Mother’s Day, people rarely debate whether mothers should be acknowledged as nothing less than that – a mother.
Mother’s Day is typically a day filled with encouragement and compassion for Black mothers; as it should be. However, the Black community tends to have "mixed feelings" about Father’s Day.
It appears that Black fathers, who only meet "select" criteria, tend to get the "Father" title, while other "select" Black fathers get referred to as ‘Deadbeat Dads’ or "Sperm Donors", especially if that Black man has fallen short in some predetermined areas where certain expectations abound.
The magnificent contributions of single moms should forever be highlighted, but acknowledging magnificent African American fathers on Father’s Day should be equally as important.
Highlighting and empowering Black fathers is what community activist Deric Muhammad will be doing on Father’s Day, June 15, 2014, as he hosts a‘Day of Encouragement’ Rally for Black fathers at 5 p.m. at MacGregor Park in Houston’s Third Ward. It is free and open to the public.
The impact and importance of fatherhood will be celebrated by all in attendance, with planned activities and an atmosphere where Black men can focus on spending quality time with their children without critique or shame. Activities include: Moonwalks for children; a Basketball Competition; a Flag football competition; Face Painting and much more.
Speakers include: community activist Deric Muhammad; Pastor E.A. Deckard, Green House International Church; former gang member Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Minister Anthony Valary of The Yolanda Adams Morning Show; U.S. Congressman Al Green; Minister Nuri Muhammad of Indianapolis, Indiana; former Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson; and many others.
The program includes: The "10 Commandments" of Fatherhood; the "4 E’s" of Child Support; and the Houston Forward Times (HFT), who joined forces with Project FORWARD to honor their "Front-Line Father" award winner at the event.
The HFT "Front-Line Father" award recognizes men who have made family a priority while balancing their jobs and community involvement, with the hopes of saluting and bringing more awareness to the importance of fatherhood. The HFT "Front-Line Father" award winner will receive a GM Sponsored Chevy vehicle (to drive for a week); $100 Gas Card; AutoZone Gift Card; McQueen’s Custom Tailor Shoes & Accessories Gift Card; and a commemorative plaque.
The day will culminate with a unified pledge for all Black men that are present with their children to become better fathers.
The overall objectives of the ‘Day of Encouragement’ are to: Lift the spirits of Black fathers and their children; Unite Black men behind programs that uplift the community; Remind fathers of their divine responsibility; Inform fathers of their rights; Encourage the community to support Black businesses; Recruit mentors for Black youth; and Create a database of like-minded men for future projects.
"We are organizing a ‘Day of Encouragement’ for Black fathers because we believe that Black men who care for their children should be honored and those who need to do better should be encouraged to do so," said Muhammad. "This is a day organized by Black men for Black men and nobody can encourage Black men like other Black men can."
This ‘Day of Encouragement’ for Black fathers is a component of the Project FORWARD initiative that Muhammad launched, that is focused on empowering the Black community with principles of brotherhood, family, youth mentorship, respect for life, recycling the Black dollar with Black businesses, proper education, solution-oriented activism and fighting for justice.
As a society, irresponsible Black Fathers, who aren’t fulfilling their role, should be held accountable by other Black men because it is their responsibility. We must also remember that none of us would be here in the world if it wasn’t for the participation and contribution of that Black male in question. They cannot be ignored and forgotten.
Muhammad wants to encourage everyone to put the past in perspective and move forward into their future and hopes this endeavor will unite Black men in the city of Houston to become mentors for their children and other young boys.
"Many of us have some personal demons and difficult memories when it comes to our fathers," said Muhammad. "This year we would like for as many as we can reach to soberly meditate on Black fatherhood and participate in future projects launched by Project FORWARD."
A father is a father, regardless of the circumstances or past mistakes made. The man’s seed makes him that child’s father, not their personal experiences or opinions. Black men must accept responsibility for the cards they have been dealt and then move forward with their lives as effective fathers.
It’s a tough thing to do, but it can be done. Everybody has a story.
All Black fathers are being challenged to come out to the ‘Day of Encouragement’ so they can join forces with other Black fathers who are destined to be the fathers they are called to be.
For more information on Project Forward, follow @ProjectFWD and @DericMuhammad. Also Connect on Facebook and visit ProjectForwardHouston.com.