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Urban League urges dads to be active parents

Chloe Herring | 8/21/2014, noon
As millions of students around the country returned to school Monday, the Urban League of Greater Miami urged local Black ...
Father walks hand-in-hand with son into Liberty City Elementary on Monday August 18.

As millions of students around the country returned to school Monday, the Urban League of Greater Miami urged local Black fathers to be involved in their children’s education, first by waking up to take them to school.

The Urban League’s push was matched by other organizations in over 700 cities across the United States in a movement tagged Million Fathers March. The program originated in Chicago in 2004 by the Black Star Project, an organization that equips minority children with academic resources.

President T. Willard Fair welcomed various father figures like uncles, granddads and stepdads to participate, even making announcements over the radio.

“We recognize there are boys in the community who don’t have a daddy but they have a father out there,” he said. “The diversity speaks to the fact that they’re all men.”

Some fathers, unaware of the march, were just excited to see their children reach a major milestone.

“I can’t stop smiling,” said Tequillan Talley, who had just dropped off his son on his first day of kindergarten at Liberty City Elementary. “We got a special handshake and he couldn’t wait to have all the kids see it.”

Talley, a single Black father, said his dad was not around to take him to school, but he knew that it was what he had to do for his own child.

The story of Black children left unattended by their biological fathers is all too familiar to Jemarlin Fowles, who was largely raised by his mother’s husband.

“I understand where the kids are coming from with no father but we have to reach out to them,” said Fowles, a member of the Circle of Brotherhood, which is a Black community service organization for males.

Research shows that students perform better academically and enjoy school when fathers play an active role in their educations. Fowles and other members of the Circle of Brotherhood try to fill the gap created by absent fathers by volunteering their time in local schools.

Fowles said positive involvement and education will steer kids away from the streets, too. He would like to see more men play a role in Black communities.

“Every brother should be a father figure to a kid,” said Fowles. “They can be saved.”

Twitter @chloeherring3