I have NEVER had the relationship that I have ALWAYS desired with my biological father. The void and pain that I, like so many others, endure due the lack of lack of connection with my biological was something that I always downplayed and tried to ignore. However, the reality is it hurt every time I looked in the stands at a football game hoping to see my father, crushed me when he never attended any of my four graduation ceremonies, and I am still in disbelief that he did not attend my wedding. At this point, I don’t believe that we will ever be able to have the father/son relationship I fantasized about, but I am still hopeful (more like wishing!) that one day we can be more than occasional “text message friends.”
That is why I am so appreciative and blessed that God has placed great “fathers” (like my father-in-law Aubrey Winston; my maternal grandfather, William “Daddy” Brown; fraternity brother/mentor, Bobby Woodard; Professor, Khepra NuRa Khem (RIP); cousins, Stan Ransom and Clyde Polk; and 9th grade English teacher, Carl Williams, Dr. Anthony Marshall high school teacher/mentor just to name a few) in my life along the way. Without a doubt, my “fathers” presence has helped fill the continued void and pain that I, like so many others, endure due to an absent biological father. My “fathers” have provided me with advice, love, encouragement, discipline, money, and, most importantly, clear examples of how a real MAN conducts himself. I could not be where I am without those strong “fathers”! Without a doubt, even as a grown man, having the love and assurance of a “father” feels so good, empowering, and necessary.
This is why I co-founded the MVP Foundation with my wife Mia Fleming to help fill the void by informing, inspiring, and empowering African-American males, especially those who come from single-mom households like myself. In fact, I believe that having a “father’s” guidance may be the single most important factor in whether a male successfully transitions from boyhood to manhood, and with more than half of America’s children growing up without their biological father. Not only does the MVP Foundation encourage and empower biological fathers to be more actively engaged with their children. We recruit, train, inspire, and empower men to become engaged in the lives of fatherless boys within our families, schools, and community. This is why we are so proud that this year we were able to “father” (mentor) 45 young men, recruit over 50 Black men to connect with Big Brothers, Big Sisters to become “fathers” to the young men in need, and provide information and inspiration to over 150 fathers during our annual Fatherhood Weekend this year.
In closing, I am living proof that Fatherhood is less about a genetic contribution any male can provide, and more about a MAN’s acceptance for the responsibility and accountability for a child. In other words, I thank God there are men who don’t allow the letters “DNA” prevent you from being “DAD” to a child in need of your time, talent, wisdom, and love! So, BIG shout and Happy Father’s day out to all my “fathers,” and all the MEN who step up to be Fathers when one’s biological didn’t, couldn’t, or failed to be the Fathers their child wanted and, more importantly, needed!
Damario Solomon-Simmons, Esq., M.Ed.., is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonSharrock law firm. His life’s mission is to inform, inspire, and empower and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @solospeakstruth.