Archive for Father’s Day

Family Values

Posted in Black America, Black Men In America with tags , , on June 22, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson 

As, I reflected on the celebration of Father’s Day last Sunday, I thought about what that day should really mean.  But, before I could do that, I had to find out where that day came from.

Father’s Day was a direct derivative of Mother’s Day; but the reason for their creation was polar opposite of each other.  Mother’s Day was created with the expressed mandate of not being turned into a “commercial” day while Father’s Day was created with the expressed purpose of being a “commercial” day. 

Anna Jarvis was credited with being the founder of Mother’s Day.  Her mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, had founded Mother’s Day Work Clubs in 1868 to improve sanitary and health conditions at both Union and Confederate camps, treat the wounded, and to feed and clothe both Union and Confederate soldiers.

On May 12, 1907, two years after her mother’s death, Anna held a memorial service in honor of her mother, thus began her crusade to officially recognize Mother’s Day.  On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. 

Father’s Day was created by Sonora Smart Dodd.  When she was 16, her mother died in childbirth.  Being the only daughter, she was given the responsibility of raising her 5 brothers.

One day, Sonora was in church and the sermon was about Mother’s Day.  She thought that fathers should also be recognized.  The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. The day became so popular that in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was the featured speaker at the Father’s Day celebration in Spokane that year.  In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the 3rd Sunday of June each year. 

Shortly after its celebration had started, Mother’s Day had become so commercial that Jarvis said she, “…wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control… A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”  

She was arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while protesting against the commercialization of Mother’s Day.  She died in poverty, spending all of her inheritance fighting against the very day she had created.

According to industry reports, Mother’s Day is now one of the most commercially successful American occasions, having become the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States and generating a significant portion of the U.S. jewelry industry’s annual revenue, from custom gifts like mother’s rings. Americans spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards. 

Father’s Day, however was opposed by the general public as an imitation of Mother’s Day (which it was) and viewed strictly as a commercial celebration.  It took fierce lobbying by the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to change public opinion.  In the mid-80s, the Council stated, “Father’s Day has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.” 

With this as a backdrop, the best gift you can give a mother or a father is the gift of time.  Mother and Father’s Day have become so commercial that it has lost its true meaning. 

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with former ambassador, Gregory W. Slayton to discuss his new book titled, “Be A Better Dad Today (” 

According to Slayton, “he is an author, businessman, diplomat, philanthropist, professor, but more importantly, a father of four great kids.”  His book is an easy read from the prospective of a regular father who is sharing practical lessons learned from his own personal journey.  His personal wealth has no bearing on his parenting.  Financially, he had the wherewithal to shower his kids with every material thing imaginable, but he decided that spending time with them was the best gift he could give.

 So, to those who want a fresh take on fatherhood, “Be A Better Dad Today” is a great read!

 Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. His website is:

The Bridge: Making Daddy Pay

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Fatherhood, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , , on June 18, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

In this nation, violent crimes typically work their way through the underclass, who are both the majority of victims and perpetrators.

Over the past forty years, more and more youth who are born into underclass families tumble further away from upward mobility.  These fallen youth have little motivation to become productive members of society, leaning more toward gangs, violent crime and drugs than education and participation in the workforce.

In study after study, this trend has been linked directly to the decline in the number of fathers present in the lives of underclass children.

When fathers are in the home, boys are taught self control, which is crucial in their teen years. Without limits set by a stable male figure, many young boys have difficulty determining where the world begins and where they end.

And, having fathers around provides healthy role models for boys who are able to imagine what their future lives can be like based upon a stable adult male figure. A young man is able to make the transition to husband, father and productive member of society when an example is in his life.

Without such examples, negative role models become the standard bearers, including gang members, pimps, thugs and other scourges from the bottom of society.

What does this mean?

It’s simple: Even if a man can not pay child support, his presence in the lives of his children is better for society overall.

At some point we must ask ourselves why the child support system focuses on the idea that a father’s best contribution is financial.  Very little effort is spent toward assuring that children have emotional and/or physical connections to fathers whether they are paying child support or not.

Sadly, the goal for most existing laws and efforts are simply to “make him pay,” including laws suspending driver’s licenses and providing access to bank accounts.  But making him pay does very little for making him present.  In fact, focusing on making him pay may actually assure that he won’t be present.

Focusing on making him pay has failed.

Ten years ago, $31 billion was in arrears on child support, according to the federal government.  By 2003, that number had soared to $96 billion, along with the number of fathers in jail and/or out of the workforce.

Further evidence that the “make him pay” focus has failed was found by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.  According to the Urban Institute, current measures designed to coerce fathers to pay child support has played a “crucial role” in forcing low-income Black men from 25 to 34 out of the workforce altogether.

The end result of aggressive child support collection is often the flight of fathers from financial burden that may be overwhelming and/or insurmountable.

The system is so anxious to make him pay, that it often holds men financially responsible without their knowledge and without them actually being fathers.

A bill named for Senator Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey), dictates that once a man is assigned financial responsibility, he can not even go to court to have it reduced or erased.

The amendment keeps fathers up under child support even if it is determined that they are not the biological parent.  This is really disturbing, when according to a report by the Los Angeles Times, roughly 70% of fathers are not in court when paternity is established and their monthly obligations are determined.

Fathers who are not present may not even know that they owe child support, and worse, according to that same LA Times report, “on average, more than 350 men every month are incorrectly named as fathers.”

Going back to the Bradley Amendment, those fathers are still held under retroactive child support orders, even after being determined not to be fathers.

There are no legal measures to seek the actual father, or to garner the physical presence of either the biological father, or the father who is being forced to pay child support.

And, in many cases, the mother has no idea who the father is.  This situation has lead to alarming “solutions” within the law.  In some states, financial responsibility is assigned to men who just happen to be around when the woman gets pregnant, whether it is his biological child or not.

The best example of this case is when a couple is married, but the wife has sex with someone other than the husband and produces a child.  Even after the couple divorces and even if DNA tests prove that someone else is the father, the ex-husband can still be assigned fatherhood and child support. And, in most cases, judges will refuse to end established child support, claiming that responsibility must remain with the only father the child has ever known.

We know that there are plentiful measures designed to make him pay, but where are the measures designed to make him present?

Sadly, there are few.

This is not only in reference to measures which would urge fathers to be present in the lives of their children, but also measures designed to enforce custody rights of non-custodial fathers.

Governments provide custodial parents with free assistance in locating the so-called “Deadbeat Dad,” to make him pay, but no state will assist a non-custodial father with locating a mother who has skipped town with the child.

Can society assure that more fathers will be present in the lives of children?

Yes.  But that will require that we change our minds about the propaganda disseminated about the so-called “Deadbeat Dad.”  Even though we can prove that the system allows fraudulent assignment of child support, and that very few men actually want to walk away from their children, some people will continue to babble on with their negative views of single fathers-based on rumors and innuendo, not fact.

Securing more fathers in the lives of children will also require that society’s focus actually be placed on making fathers present as opposed to making them pay.  Even though it has been proven that making him pay has failed, society dredges on with the prosecution of impoverished fathers for debts which continue to go uncollected.

And, finally, if we wish to see more fathers in the lives of children, we must stop the Welfare System from supplanting the father as breadwinner of the family.

In some ways, society is waking up to the fact that making him pay has not made him present and that the system needs to be changed.

The times, they are a’ changin’.  Proof comes from mothers who not only care about their children, but about the relationships those children have with their fathers.

For example, Jacqueline Kennedy, an unwed mother from Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that she prefers personal involvement to child support from her child’s father.

“He calls. He sends cards. He’s an excellent father,” said Kennedy, who supports her family with her job as a child-care worker. “You don’t have to be together to raise a child. Women need to get off Aid to Families With Dependent Children and stop thinking about fathers paying child support. What makes a good father is whether he gets involved.”

Children have needs.

Fathers should pay when they can.  So should mothers. So should society.

Fathers can’t carry children in a womb, but once a child is in the world, fathers can provide nurturing and support to children in a way that is as necessary as the nurturing and support a mother provides.

That is more about being around than being a cash machine.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at

The History of Father’s Day

Posted in Black Men, Gary A. Johnson with tags , , on June 20, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Sam Johnson

Samuel H. Johnson (1932-2009)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day 2009.  This will be my first Father’s Day without my father, who passed away earlier this year in February.  For some reason I wanted to know about the history of Father’s Day.  I grew up believing that Father’s Day was invented by the greeting card companies.  I conducted some research and learned that the first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, WA, when Mrs. John B. Dodd first proposed the idea of a “Father’s Day” a year earlier.  At that time there were no Father’s Day cards.

Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself.  It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she reflected and appreciated how strong and giving her father was when it came to raising his children as a single parent.

At about the same time in various towns and cities across American other people were beginning to celebrate a “Father’s Day.”  In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day.  In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Over the decades Father’s Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure including stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends.

If you were fortunate like me to have a good relationship with your father or any man that positively influenced your life, celebrate them and their memory.  Find a way that is meaningful and personal for you.

My father, Samuel H. Johnson, lived a full life.  Despite his unbelievably tragic upbringing and not having a father in his life, he managed to be a wonderful father.  As a young adult, he had men in his life who taught him how to be respectful and trusting of others, when he lived in a world where very few people could be trusted.

Somehow my Dad managed to make his children feel safe and loved in a world that did not provide those things to him.  He had a lot of help from my mother, but my focus is on Dad today.  Toward the end of his life, I have some very powerful and treasured memories of my father.  We spent a lot of quality time together during the last year of his life.  We laughed and shared a few heart-felt moments that help me put life in perspective.

If your father is living and you have a relationship with him, don’t take it lightly.  In your own special way, try to make every day “Father’s Day.”  Respecting, loving, forgiving and appreciating you father is no easy task, but it is worth it in the end.

I miss my Dad.  A few days before he passed away, my Dad told me there would be aspects of my life that would change when he passed.  In short, he warned that I would have some difficult days in front of me.  My life was pretty good.  I didn’t understand what he was talking about then, but here I am four months after his death and I’m beginning to understand what he was trying to tell me, which makes me appreciate him more.

Watching my Dad’s health decline to a point where he depended upon others to do for him was tough.  In helping to care for him, I believe I was setting the best example for his prize possessions—his two grandsons.  My sons had a front row seat for what it takes to care for a loved one in who can’t care for themselves.  You must be patient, caring and have a heart-felt desire to give the patient the best quality of life.

My father was a good man who overcame obstacles in life that would have ruined most people.  I promised my father that I would follow in his footsteps and be a father to my sons that he was to me.

So on this day, and every day, I remember my Dad.  To all the men who have stepped up to the plate and handled their business and other people’s business when it comes to fatherhood–Happy Father’s Day!

Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book“25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

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