A Change Agent

Today my son asked me, “Daddy, why do you go to so many meetings?” I told him it was important for people who make decisions to hear from the population most likely to be affected. I promised myself I would educate my son and inform him of the obstacle faced by many African Americans: receiving a seat at the table. Inclusion does not happen at all or happen fast enough unless we are part of the decision-making process.

Recently I had the opportunity to review Title V, a government assistance program that provides significant federal funding to nonprofits. As I read through paragraph after paragraph, I was astonished to see the words “Father” and/or “Dad” was nowhere to be found. Dads do in fact benefit from Title V funding, and to remove these words is unconscionable. How can anyone who is involved in the child-rearing process exclude these two words when describing the family dynamic?

I’ve been involved with Great Start Collaborative, Family Futures, and other programs that assist parents in enriching their lives and the lives of their children. And I’ve learned it’s all about giving a hand up, not a handout. Over the last four and half years, I’ve consistently shared how “Father” and “Dad” must be included in Title V literature. Far too many times, people of color associate a “Home Visitor” with a negative connotation. This term is commonly viewed as a state worker or someone who comes to the house to tear down the family structure. And amidst this “teardown,” it often means removing the father from the home.

Since becoming a Parent Liason, my agenda has centered on getting fathers involved in every aspect of their child’s life. To not just sound off about what society has done to them or their family—but to be part of the change.

I find inspiration from Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut who said, “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”


Funding from the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education supports the implementation of Great Start.