Commentary: The role of Black fathers and its effect upon our communities

Commentary: The role of Black fathers and its effect  upon our communities
September 01
14:09 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

I had a father. I am a father, And a grandfather, too. 

Upon reflection, I sometimes took my father for granted. Why? Because my father was always there. He was in the house and he was my role model. The love he gave me, the encouragement he gave me, and the lectures he gave me have been fundamental pillars of my life.

Both of my parents provided me with the tools for successful living. However, my dad took me from boyhood to manhood.

If you are old school and Black like me, you probably had a similar experience growing up. We flourished because of the emotional nourishment that they gave to us.

The African American community, no matter where you spent your formative years, was filled with hope and opportunity as its cornerstones. Chaos and crime did not happen at alarming rates. Hearing police sirens was not a sound we heard on a daily basis. You could sit on your stoop and not feel threatened.

Fathers led their families. They were proud and confident. As young boys, we took our cues from them.

Let’s fast forward to now. There are still countless numbers of Black fathers who lead their families and especially their sons. They provide them with the protection and wisdom they need.

Yet there are pockets of despair and disappointment among Black fathers.

In many ways, they have abdicated their responsibility. They lead lives that are filled with conflict and mayhem.

Recently, another Black father who was leading his family lost his life to gun violence. Detective Everette Briscoe of the New Orleans Police Department was killed last Saturday in Houston, Texas. This was senseless violence.

If you are a Black father, stay close to your children. Guide them and mentor them. They may take a detour, but they will come back. Remember the scripture, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

As fathers, in my opinion, we have complex roles. We give structure, but we must be flexible in giving it. Sons in particular push back when there is too much guidance.

While some may disagree, the times have changed. We live in a different era. My father’s guidance was generational. Every child in my neighborhood was raised pretty much the same way. There were things we did not do, such as talking back and walking away.

Unfortunately, there are children today who do talk back and who do walk away.

I believe there is an argument to be made that today’s dads are better listeners. That leads to healthier communication between fathers and their children.

Yet despite some of these differences, there are some dad traits that have stood the test of time. We love talking about our children and want what is best for them. We sacrifice and make do so that our children can do. Success is what we want for them. When they grow into adulthood, we take pride in their successes. We are their biggest cheerleaders.

Whether you are an old school dad or a new school dad, there is joy and happiness in our role. We wear our title as dad proudly. Some of us have different titles, such as Pop Pop. Whatever our title, we provide the love for our children

Being a role model is a big responsibility. Our children watch us and they see our actions. We are the initial role models for our sons, in particular. We cannot disappoint them.

Wherever you are in your fatherhood walk, stay strong and stay committed.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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