Coalition Celebrate Fathers, Hosts Discussion about Urban Fathers and Violence

Mike and Avis Files, center, and the Brothers United team

Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

The Lucas County Fatherhood Coalition presented a week to celebrate fathers, titled “Fatherhood Fire, Igniting the Change.” The fatherhood week began on June 10 and concluded on June 15.

One of the activities was a discussion that centered around urban fathers and violence in the community. The discussion was facilitated by James Starks II, local news anchor of 13abc, and featured eight local fathers at various stages of life.

The discussion was held on Wednesday, June 12, at Mott Branch Library.

“Thank you and welcome,” said Avis Files, Pathway, Inc. director of Family and Supportive Services and Coalition chairperson. “The coalition is here to serve the community in a way that is different. We wanted to hear from fathers today. I thank the panel and James for their time.”

Panel – Pastor Williams Foster, Terry Crosby, Victor Coleman, facilitator James Starks II, Demarco Peacock, Eric Daniels, Devonne Fagan, Eduardo Adams, Eric Williams

The panelists began the discussion by providing one word to describe either being a father or fatherhood, while sharing life experiences.

“I was raised by my aunt and don’t want my children to be raised the same way,” said Demarco Peacock. “I want to communicate with my children and to be there for my children.”

“My father was every other weekend father,” shared Pastor William Foster. “I felt unprotected but was raised with my step father and mother. I want my son to feel protected and not to operate in a space of trauma. I want to prepare him to be a father and husband.”

“I had a great father who was home every night,” said Eric Williams. “He was there for all 11 of us. I give my kids the resources to deal with life and we have open conversations.”

“I was fortunate to be raised with my mom and dad,” said Terry Crosby. “When that happens it is impactful. Both parents need to be responsible. It was not just my parents but a village there for me. I feel the village is missing today. Even if we impact one person, collectively the village impact, we need to bring that resource back.”

“It’s easy to blame the black man when he’s not in the home,” said Eduardo Adams. “My father wasn’t in the home and I turned out okay. It’s not just about being absent in the home, because that doesn’t mean that he’s absent.”

Eric Daniels, center, with Mom’s House staff

“We need to keep being positive because impact won’t occur overnight,” shared Eric Daniels. “We can’t save the world, but we can do our part.”

“When we look at the prison numbers, you can’t show me where 60-70 percent of crimes are committed by Black people. Once they are sentenced, more time is spent away from their kids at a higher rate,” noted Devonne Fagan. “We need the village. It takes a lot and I’m going to keep going.”

“We need to create safe spaces for our brothers, we are not enemies,” said Victor Colman. “We’re afraid to soften up because the streets have taught us to toughen up. I know there’s two brothers on this panel that were impacted by violence and I should have reached out to them and checked on them. They are my brothers. Even though I wasn’t affected, he was and I should have taken a pause from the grind to check on my brother. I shouldn’t wait until someone is on a T-shirt to say that I love them.”

In addition to the panel discussion, the week opened with a press conference on June 10, continued with a conversation with Lucas County Child Support and Ohio Means Jobs, discussion about health and mental health, community-wide fatherhood conference, fathers and family day at Port Lawrence and concluded with a health fair in collaboration with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Panel and audience