In Honor of Black Dads: Happy Father’s Day from HBCU Leggings

In Honor of Black Dads: Happy Father’s Day from HBCU Leggings

Every year, Father's Day gives us an opportunity to honor and appreciate the remarkable men who have guided us, supported us, and have helped to shape our lives through their role as fathers and father figures. It's a day to express gratitude and appreciation for their guidance, support, and unconditional love. This means fathers of all sorts, including grandfathers, uncles and even big brothers, and this month,  HBCU Leggings shines a spotlight on a group that often gets overlooked - our Black fathers. 

The Big Little Things 

This morning, a scene unfolded before me that served as a reminder of how sometimes, the big things in life are composed of little moments. I found myself slowing down as I drove past my neighborhood elementary school, intrigued by a spectacle of colorful balloons dancing in the wind and a banner that proudly announced, “Doughnuts with Dad - Happy Father’s Day.”

Intrigued, I slowed down to get a good look at the event; fathers walking hand in hand with their elementary school aged children to class as they gleefully crammed Krispy Kreme doughnuts into their tiny mouths. It was delightful to see and I was moved because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before. How rare to see fathers publicly celebrated in such numbers in the middle of the morning,  especially at an hour when they're often invisible, busy behind office desks or caught in traffic. Seeing them engaged, present, and delighting in simple moments with their children was a beautiful reminder of the priceless role dads play in our lives.

This wasn’t a grand parade or a flashy celebration, but it was, in its own way, profoundly significant. These seemingly small gestures have a way of embedding themselves deep within our hearts, creating memories that last a lifetime. These are the big little things. And it was heartening to imagine how these moments of joy, shared over sugary bites of doughnuts, would resonate with both the dads and their children for many years to come.

Iconic Fathers on the Small Screen

Isn't it fascinating how art often mirrors life, and life, in turn, draws inspiration from art? It's a cycle, a beautiful dialogue that has significantly shaped our perceptions and conversations. One area where this is especially apparent is in the portrayal of Black fatherhood on television. Think back to the TV programming in the '90s, and you'll recall an era studded with memorable Black fathers and father figures.

Take for example Carl Winslow from "Family Matters." Remember him? Played with heartwarming conviction by actor Reginald VelJohnson, Carl Winslow was a hardworking policeman by day and a devoted family man by night. This TV dad dealt with everything from the usual family squabbles to the endearing yet clumsy antics of his neighbor, Steve Urkel. What stood out, however, was his unwavering integrity and moral compass. Through Winslow, "Family Matters" taught us that no matter how taxing the world may be, the strength and love of family remain our greatest sanctuary.

Uncle Phil Fresh Prince

And then there's Uncle Phil, the unforgettably loving and tough father figure from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Played by James Avery (may he rest in peace), Uncle Phil was technically an uncle to Will Smith's character, but his impact extended far beyond that of an uncle's. He stepped in as a father when it was most needed, molding young Will with a mix of stern discipline and deep affection. His role demonstrated that fatherhood is more than a biological connection—it's about providing guidance, showing love, and being a constant presence.

The portrayal of these legendary TV dads not only challenged stereotypes but also highlighted the depth, complexity, and beauty of Black fatherhood. These characters helped humanize Black fathers and celebrate their roles on a platform as influential as prime-time television. As we look back and celebrate these iconic TV dads, let's also remember the everyday heroes in our lives—the Black fathers and father figures who guide, love, and inspire us daily.

The Influence of Real Life Black Fathers

Prominent Black fathers in the real world have continued to shatter stereotypes and redefine what it means to be a Black father. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a Howard University graduate and  notable figure from the HBCU community, has significantly influenced discussions on race in America. His roles as both a writer and devoted father intertwine to give his discourse on race a richness and relatability that resonates deeply with his audience.

Fatherhood, for Coates, is a profound journey. It's beautifully demonstrated in his book "Between the World and Me," where he shares a heartfelt letter to his son. He provides an intimate look into his experiences as a Black man, sharing fears, hopes, dreams, and realities, revealing his journey of fatherhood as one of self-exploration, learning, and wisdom impartation.

In "Between the World and Me," Coates' experiences as a father and a Black man in America are not separate identities but interconnected parts of a complex whole. As we honor Black fathers this Father's Day, let's appreciate the multi-faceted richness of Black fatherhood, recognizing figures like Coates who continue to inspire, challenge, and change our understanding through their enduring wisdom and love.

Celebrating our Black Fathers

As we celebrate Black fathers this Father's Day, let's honor their multifaceted richness and the enduring wisdom and love they bring to our lives. And if you're looking for a special gift to show your appreciation, consider our limited-edition shirts from HBCU Leggings. By purchasing these shirts, you not only support our mission but also celebrate the remarkable fathers who deserve recognition.

This Father's Day, let's cherish the big little things and honor the Black fathers who have shaped our lives. Join us in celebrating their love, strength, and unwavering presence. Together, we can make this Father's Day a memorable one for the remarkable fathers in our lives.

Bibi Mama is a first generation Beninese-American actress born and raised in Mansfield, CT. Growing up she watched her father, an English professor and author, continue the Yoruba oral tradition through storytelling, which inspired her. She earned her B.F.A. from Howard University and recently finished her MFA at the Old Globe/University of San Diego MFA Graduate Acting Program.
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