Another year, another Father’s Day. This year Father’s Day is adjacent to Juneteenth Day. To acknowledge the importance of fathers and address the horrendous consequences of slavery for fathers and society, I’m combining a tribute to fathers with a shout out to several folks who are working to make equip men to be good father figures and/or the deeply rooted negative societal consequences of slavery. Slavery hasn’t ended; it’s merely transformed into new ways of preventing people from being fully free to thrive.
Juneteenth, aka June 19th, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, a Union General rode into Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War had ended, and slaves had been freed. Today the day is set aside to commemorate the day some 250,000 enslaved Texans got word they were free. It is also a day to focus on the efforts of social activists to address the modern reality that globally some 40 million people are still enslaved. Meet a few folks who are doing something about it.
Author Percy Kennedy
Percy is passionate about helping children living in single-parent families. He became a single parent as a sophomore in college while attending Lamar University on a football scholarship in his hometown of Beaumont, Texas. He recently published Voices of the Fatherless: Letters from Incarcerated Dads Aimed at Breaking the Prison Pipeline. Children being raised without a father present in their lives is one of our nation’s most critical and long-running pandemics and we all pay a price for it in terms of social disruptions.
Acting Out In Prison
A few years ago I met Curt Tofteland who founded Shakespeare Behind Bars, an innovative program that works. Nationally the recidivism rate is over 76 percent; among those who participate in Tofteland’s program the rate is only 6 percent. SBB gets men, women and youth to perform plays written by Shakespeare. They rehearse and perform for other inmates, family, and friends while incarcerated. The program is the oldest of its kind in North America. In doing so, they develop life skills that pave the road to success when they are released to rejoin society.
Author Phyllis Brown
Author Phyllis Brown, a retired teacher, focuses her writing passion on telling a more complete version of USA history. The Legacy of the Gold Banded Box series focuses on a special treasure a young West African girl named Folayan got from her mother, which she passes on to her descendants. Folayan was born in Ghana in 1780, into the Kwantuni family, a family of traveling merchants. She grows to maturity as the age of capturing Africans to enslave and sell in the New World is coming to an end. She hopes she’ll soon know what it is to be in love and live with the man she loves. However, in her culture her father will determine who she marries.
Last year author Patrick Bailey wrote a guest blog for me about the vital role father’s play, not only in families, but in society. He stays on top of the latest news from the addiction and the mental health world and writes about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. You can reach him through his website http://patrickbaileys.com. For example, he referred to the phrase “Daddy Issues”, a term that refers to people, women in particular, who must address the consequences of an absent father in their formative years.
The Role of Fathers Today
Not that many generations ago families worked more or less together. The majority of families worked the land for a living and crossed paths many times a day in the field or barn or around the kitchen table. Other families ran small business in town, often living above or behind the family business. Children helped parents with all sorts of tasks and were a vital part of a family economic system.
Then we started mass-producing things, built railways to move those things long distances, and started replacing family-owned businesses with companies. The companies merged together to become large corporations. Work obligations started keeping families separated many hours each day. Some of these changes have wrecked havoc on a family’s home life. Too many children grow up barely knowing their fathers. Screen time has replaced the family dinner hour. This is a loss, not only for those children, but also for all of us as a society.
Children need fathers. Yes, there are thousands of single mothers who do a remarkable job of raising their children without fathers around to help. But children still need both male and female people in their lives to learn how to be healthy adults.
Wanted: More Mature Fathers to Mentor Their Children
We need men who read to children and let children read to them, because that strengthens the bonds of caring between people. We need men who will discuss the events of the day with children because that is how children learn values and ethics. We need men who encourage children, who bless them, and assure them – every day in any way they can, that a father is providing emotional care as well as financial care. If you are one of those men – thank you. You are a major part of the solution to most of society’s challenges.
Happy Father’s Day
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