In 2019, my wife, Mary, and I were riding in the car when our conversation lead to her making this remark:
"You know, I don't feel like dads get the same attention for Father's Day as moms do on Mother's Day."
We thought about ways that we could help shift that narrative and give dads a chance to shine. I also thought about the stereotypes of dads (specifically black fathers) that they're never around or are deadbeats. Sure, there are some, but majority of the dads I know are happily present. It led me to the idea of taking photos of dads with their kids in different settings, showing their love the way that they do best.
Then COVID-19 hit.
How would I still be able to capture the essence of dads with their kids but still be socially distant? Well, that's what cameras are made for, capturing things from all sorts of distances. I sent out an email to a handful of dads that I knew around Charlotte, and even some back home in Virginia. I told them what I wanted to do, and that we could get a shot from right on their porch or in their front yards. We wouldn't need to get close at all. Most of them said "I'm in".
So, here we are. My hope is that this handful of dads will not only feel a little more celebrated, but that it would spread joy, happiness, and put a smile on people's faces during a time where sometimes finding a smile is so hard to do. I want it to encourage a father and their child to reconnect, and to ignite a dad who may not have been around to take that chance and do it now.
Fatherhood is a beautiful thing - Let's celebrate it.
I met Gerard almost two years ago when I went to hear a mutual friend, Rwenshaun Miller, speak at Elevation Church. They were both on the panel of speakers and Gerard dropped some gems while he was up there. We connected afterward and have since done several projects together. Speaking of, he's the owner of Creator's Collab and Director of the Steven Smith Family Foundation in Charlotte.
We really began to connect when he joined my virtual Bible study at the start of the year. My admiration for this brother who grinds hard to provide for his family and lead those around him continually grows each time I talk with him. You can check out what Gerard has going on by following him on Instagram @glittlejohn or on LinkedIn.
When my wife and I moved to Charlotte, we really didn't know anyone. All of our family was back home in VA. So, as I set out to go full time with my branding agency 21five, I had to find someone who could help with the accounting. I found Proctor and Associates, a tax and accounting firm here in Charlotte. I had no idea that he'd become someone I'd consider a close friend and "big brother" to me. Oh, and when we bought our house and I went to give him my updated address, he says "Mannnn, I live on the other side of the same neighborhood."
I've watched over 4 years as Tony has not only expanded his business, but as he continues to grow as a dad. His kids are an example of the man he is - patient, strong, intelligent, and rather hilarious.
...Tony, we should have gotten a pic with the bikes!
David Sharp, or as we refer to him, Min. Sharp and I met at out our church Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center. You know how there's people who lead and teach with a humility that makes you draw closer to them? That's Min. Sharp. The funny thing is, I think I learned more about him as I hung out with his sons (who really remind me of my brother Isaiah). His boys are incredibly loving, and hilarious, and hard-workers. That's 100% David Sharp.
I won't get into the conversations we've had, but I can say that he's a genuine Man of God, husband, dad, and friend. I truly see why our Bishop has him standing right beside him.
and she's the best one in my opinion...
13 years, that's how long I've known Herman Johnson. He's the dad of Mary, my beautiful wife. Need I say more? Haha.
He's what you'd consider an O.G., an old-school brother who is a man's man. He's not about taking any mess of anybody, although I do think "Boo Boo" as he calls my wife has a bit more leniency than anyone else. A man of very few words (unless it's sports).
Momma Barbara, my mom-in-love, told me that when Mary was little, Herman would take her out on dates. They'd go to a restaurant, he open the door and pull her chair out, and talk about whatever she wanted to talk about. He was teaching her what her future husband should do for her.
When my wife and I got married, I saw a different side of Herman. The guy who wouldn't say much began to talk a little more. Fast forward to his grandson being born, and it was a wrap. You see this man smiling in the camera? That would have never happened!
Herman is a Veteran who retired a few years ago. His motto these days "I'm not doing anything I don't want to do." and he deserves it.
with one more loading...
You ever met someone and right off of the bat you hit it off? That's Tim Claiborne. He's been a dad longer than me, and when it came time for my wife and I to have our first child, the way he showed up in support was so different. Maybe it was because he knew what I needed as a man getting ready to go on this journey of fatherhood. Maybe it's just in his nature. He SHOWS UP for his boys. I think his greatest life accomplishment is raising a strong, God-loving, country (lol) family, and as God leads him, he does it.
Tim works for an electric company, but his passion is with TLC Images, a photography business that he and his wife, Latrice, own together. I've learned so much from this guy on so many levels and I don't even think he knows it, so I know that his sons (the two in this pic, and the one that's coming soon) gain a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and love from Tim.
Mike Ammons and I have a unique relationship. We met when my wife and I were about to close on our first home. I decided to go to an HOA meeting to see what we were getting into, when he and his fiance walked into the room. We were the only young black guys there as I recall, and his fiance was pregnant. We talked and quickly learned that his son and my son were due around the same time.
We both became dads exactly one week apart. That's why our relationship is unique. Living a few houses away on the same street, we've been supporting each other as we've navigated this thing called fatherhood. When he stepped out to start his own business, MCA Turf Services I could see the determination to provide for his family and keep the smiles on their faces. Nothing but respect for this brother!
Rev. Bowers, or Walt as I've often called him, and I met around the same time I met Tony Proctor. He and Lawrence, who you'll read about next, became my go-to business attorneys. But, as I got to know Walt, I learned that this man is a beast. Not only did he have a successful law firm WBV Law (formerly WoBo Law), but he was the Executive Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church Charlotte, a veteran, and dad to triplet boys. Now picture that if you have a son and multiple him by 3 - that's why I say that this man is a beast!
Beyond that, my admiration of him is not only in what he does professionally, but in how genuine he is. These days it may be hard to catch up with him as he's now a Senior Pastor as well, but if you ever get to meet this guy, he's one of the most thoughtful people you'll know. He's certainly a Superdad... or in this case they were Ninja Turtles so "cowabunga"!
Lawrence is a straight-shooter if I've ever met one. A down to earth guy from New Orleans, he's the co-owner of WBV Law with Walt, an Omega Psi Phi man, and active leader at Ebenezer Baptist Church Charlotte.
I saw him as the civil attorney for a while until I started doing work for his church. That's when I saw the dad. He probably doesn't even know it, but I watched him once with his boys and how he showed up exactly how they needed him to as he corrected them with love. It reminded me of how my dad would talk to me when I wasn't doing what I was supposed to. That's a part of what being a Father is about, being present in every way.
Pastor Ty Francis! Ty is one of those guys who you wish you'd met earlier in life just to have more dialog with. My wife did grow up with him though, and she told me "there's a guy I want you to meet, you two have to much in common I think." We do, and I certainly look up to him. I truly admire how he parents. There a strong sense of grace with how he leads. His kids are such a great example of the peace and strength he brings as a man and as a dad.
He does a lot of things, but I'll point out that he's the Pastor of Flowing Life, and owner of Francis Media. He's another brother on his grind, making time for date nights with the wife, and dad life with the kids.
One day we'll have to get the boys on the court together to shoot around!
My wife and I signed up for a birthing class when she was pregnant. When we arrived, we met this couple who were having twins. The dad was a laid back brother who happened to know a lot of people from my hometown in VA because he went to Virginia State University. That kicked off the start to a dope friendship with my guy Rashard "G" Beatty.
I've seen the moments of joy that many of us dads experience when our kids do something new that we didn't expect. I've also seen those other moments where you start questioning "what in the world did I get myself into?" Haha. My guy balances everything with ease and stays fly while doing it. His kids are going to grow up and be something great, and that's in part to the great dad they have pushing them forward.
Elwood "Woody" Copeland is my son's babysitter (kinda, lol). He's actually the husband of our sitter, and has kids of his own that live out of state, but he helps take care of my son and his friend Tristan (Mike's son) too. Whether it's snacks, playing ball, or just a hug, Mr. Woody has been like another grandfather to my boy. Honestly, he's like a grandpa to all of the children Ms. CC watches over. For that, I had to have him on the list.
Mr. Woody is a hardworking man who still drives trucks. He's such a kindhearted, loving spirit. I've watched how when Tank, my son, would cry, he'd go straight to Mr. Woody and they'd almost cry together. It's both heartwarming and pretty funny.
Every Monday he brings sugar-free doughnuts for the boys to snack on with him. It reminds me that being a dad doesn't have to be because of blood - it's a matter of love.
They say I'm his mini-me... Yeah, that's true. Haha. Kevin Pleasants, Sr., my dad has taught me soooo much. Fixing cars, how to treat my wife, how I should go about my work, building things, tech, finances, and of course parenting. When I was younger, he had his share of challenges. Fibromyalgia, having to use a cane to walk, then later a brain tumor and loss of hearing, and cardiomyopathy- things that can drag any person down. But, the same guy who was overweight and who's body was honestly trying to shut down look at me and said that he had to get better because of his family. He wasn't done being me and Isaiah's dad just yet. Now he's better at nearly 60 years old than he was at 50.
My dad, minister of music for several churches, has taught me the meaning of trusting God. Almost always calm and willing to listen, he's been like a dad to my friends too. The same way he'd drive four hours just to come to my house and help me put down new floors in my house, then turn right back around to get back to church on Sunday, he'll do for others.
That's the thing - fatherhood isn't just for your own kids - it's the community. Dad's often uplift, teach, correct, and love on those beyond their own bloodline.
My dad has been an example of that for me, my brother, my son, my wife, my friends, and those I don't even know.
He's my template for being a great dad.
We love you dad!
Fatherhood is a journey filled with bumps and bruises, but it's one of the most rewarding things I could ever do. My son, Kevin III, aka "Tank", has taught me so much, and even though hearing "dada" every 3 seconds can be tiring, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't hear it.
I have no clue where he get's his athleticism from, but I'll learn what I need to, to get him where ever he wants to go. I'll be there each time he falls and scrapes his knees, first day of school, first date and driving for the first time... even though I'm not rushing any of that!
So, I celebrate this day that God gifted my wife and I a child, a little boy. I celebrate the ability to not only make him, but to be in his life, each and every day.