LOS ANGELES – When Ronald Harris went to pick up his niece from pre-school one day, the 5 year old was visibly upset with tears in her eyes.
“She was crying because she said the other kids had daddies,” he said. “She asked me if I would be hers and I said, ‘Yes.’”
The day marked a turning point in the lives of Harris, then in his 20s, and Karen Glenn who have maintained an active father-daughter relationship.
Harris, who was young and unattached with no responsibilities, says he found himself fulfilling the role of a father and helped care for Glenn, whose mother was studying to become a nurse at the time in hopes of inspiring her young daughter to go on and do great things.
The sister and brother efforts paid off as Glenn, a Los Angeles teacher, is gearing up to host an inaugural event, “Celebration of Fatherhood” Sept. 20, through her nonprofit Transitions 2 Success and Million Father March. While the event will address the general nature of fatherhood, a greater emphasis will focus on the rapport between fathers and daughters.
“Not every man is a father, but every woman is someone’s daughter,” Glenn said. “It’s kind of deep when you think about it.”
Terry Boykins, an organizer for at-risk youth and regional organizer for Million Father March, inspired Glenn to adopt his current campaign as this year’s theme, “Daughters’ Lives Matter!”
“I kept hearing that girls weren’t given a platform to talk about their problems,” he said.
For nearly a decade, Boykins advocated for fatherhood engagement among black and Latino communities but admittedly says he focused on a father-son relationship.
Women would share stories about their relationship challenges with men or were victims of domestic abuse, low-self esteem and substance abuse, he said.
The common denominator, according to Boykins, is these women either did not have a father who was engaged or involved in a healthy father-daughter relationship.
The cause-and-effect theory resonates with Glenn.
“The father-daughter relationship offers protection and covering as well as a solid foundation,” she said. “We want to help men develop a plan for their child’s future.”
The event will feature presentations and resources for fathers looking to build a solid foundation as well as provide light-hearted moments with entertainment, food and networking, according to organizers.
“We’re also going to recognize the dads — who are really great dads — and shine a spotlight on them,” Glenn said. “We know they get tired and have obstacles.”
The fatherhood celebration comes at a time when black fathers are often characterized as absent based on several reports and studies.
However, Google “black fathers” and search results will display the terms “myths” and “lies” about black fatherhood.
The event falls outside the normal fatherhood celebration in June, but organizers had that in mind.
“We’re celebrating you specifically and on purpose for stepping up to the plate,” Glenn said. “Every father in that place will leave with something.”
Celebration of Fatherhood is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 20 at Wilfandel Club, 3425 W. Adams Blvd. For more information, call (310) 995-8233 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.