By Dylan Deprey
A little boy walks into the school bathroom with a classmate during break. He goes to open the door of the stall. His friend immediately makes fun of him for not using the urinal. The little boy says that this was the only way he knew how. It was the way his mother taught him. His father was never there to teach him.
The banging of steel drums ringing through Moody Park signified a change in Milwaukee. The white and navy blue tee shirts that branded “We All We Got, We All We Need,” signified a newfound brotherhood.
The lines of excited children waiting for face painting signified a group excited sons and daughters having both parents involved in their life.
As part of the Common Council’s multipronged plan to end the violence in Milwaukee and in the spirit of Father’s Day, 500 fathers were expected to meet in the violence prone 53206 zip code on Friday, June 17.
The event was organized Dennis Walton, outreach coordinator of the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a janitor or a judge. If you are a father, you are important, and your role is serious in this community,” Walton said.
Walton said that although exactly 500 fathers didn’t show up, the men that did attend served as a wakeup call for the city of Milwaukee.
“We can’t have nine-year-old girls getting shot in the face. We can’t have 12 and 13-year-old boys playing real life Grand Theft Auto,” Walton said. “It’s going to take fathers to step up and play a stronger role in the lives of their children.”
Community leaders and elected officials came to celebrate with their friends and neighbors for the event.
Recently elected Ald. Khalif Rainey noted that to change the face of the communities and end the violence in Milwaukee, it would take an army of dedicated community members.
“We have got to come out the doors of our homes and become engaged on our block,” Rainey said.
Rainey said that it could be as simple as picking up trash in the neighborhood or just talking to the young men in the community. He also asked the fathers of the community to participate in night walks and patrol their neighborhoods.
“If there is a problem area or neighborhood, let us know, because we will be coming through,” Rainey said. “I am not afraid; I’m from 23rd and Locust.”
State Sen. Lena Taylor was in attendance and noted the impact her father had on her life.
“Having my daddy tell me what to expect from a man, it was important. Having my daddy tell me I was beautiful so somebody else didn’t have to, it was important. Having my daddy tell me how a man should act when he takes you out to dinner, it was important,” Taylor said.
She also said that a father’s role in his children’s lives, whether in a relationship with the mother or not, is extremely important for their upbringing into adulthood. She also thanked the men in the community who helped teach her son to be professional like the importance of shaking hands and keeping eye contact.
“Men, it takes you to fill the gap for when fathers are not around,” Taylor said.