According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, more than 25 million children now live apart from their biological fathers. That’s a 15.3 percent increase (eight to 23.3 percent) from 1960 to 2006. Worse, nearly two in three (65 percent) of black children live in fatherless homes, and almost 80 percent of those children can expect to live at least a part of their childhood apart from their fathers or significant male figure.
Lacking the presence of a strong, positive black male in their lives, even very young black men show signs of succumbing to the pressures of street culture, violence, drug use, and misogyny. They are literally dying-physically and emotionally-every day from lack of love and resources. They have not learned the basic fundamentals of manhood, and instead are trapped in the unproductive and destructive state of boyhood.
Most of these young men have no real sense of who they are, what good they are capable of, and the tremendous obligation they have to maximize every opportunity. They have never had an opportunity to learn about their unique history, accomplishments, and potential from strong black male role models who are capable of teaching and guiding them by example and shared discourse. This is why so many young black males join the legions of other distraught, angry and empty young black men across the nation; those who have lost hope in education and upward social mobility. Instead, many resort to criminal behavior or the overwhelming and unrealistic belief in professional athletics as the sole opportunity for acceptable social and economic advancement.
As bad as the facts cited above are – and they are bad – we strongly agree with our colleague and friend, CEO and Founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan L. Taylor, who writes “reclaiming the lives of our children is a battle we can win. With the quality of their lives as the guiding factor in our choices—personal, political, financial and spiritually—we can create what is needed to move these soul-crushing statistics in the opposite direction.”
So, May 2-4, 2014 The MVP Foundation’s 2nd Fatherhood Weekend will improve the local situation regarding low levels of committed fathers and overall lack of positive male influence in many inner-city families by:
- Bringing together local funders of fatherhood initiatives w/local fatherhood programs in Northeastern Oklahoma,
- Providing networking opportunity for fatherhood practitioners and stakeholders (parents, teachers, etc) to network and get tangible resources,
- Providing information, inspiration, and empowerment for Black males currently dealing with issues of fatherhood and manhood
- Connecting resources and programming to Black males in need.
We will accomplish the above objectives through a series of events that include Black Male Mentoring Summit and a celebrity panel discussion on the topic of fatherhood featuring former NBA Star and author Etan Thomas, Dr. Boyce Watkins, and David Miller. So, if you are “All-In for Our Young Men” I hope to see you in attendance!
Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and his wife, TV personality and Charity blogger, Mia Fleming founded the MVP Foundation with a mission to create programming that raises money and awareness to benefit Tulsa inner-city youth. Since, 2009 the MVP Foundation has helped more than 700 young people, and raised more than $125,000 for local charities and initiatives focused on inner-city youth.