By Nyesha Stone
To challenge the norm, Dr. Juliete Martin-Thomas and Dr. Shawnee Daniels-Skyes created an event to celebrate fathers because they matter too.
Last month, they celebrated their second annual R.E.A.L. (Responsible, Earnest, Aware, Loving) Fathers: Past, Present and Future.
“We’re celebrating the family when we celebrate the men,” said Dr. Martin-Thomas. “We cherish the males in our family.”
Fathers, especially Black fathers, face backlash not only from society but sometimes their family, and through Dr. Martin-Thomas and Dr. Daniels-Skyes’ prayer group the R.E.A.L. Father’s event was birthed.
The women wanted people with different wisdom traditions from different communities to come together to enjoy in one another and pray. So, three years ago, their prayer group was created with the participation from past friends and a few new comers, and recently, one male.
During the interview, the phrase “give me my flowers while I’m still alive” flowed throughout a room in St Martin De Porres Catholic’s church. The women want the men to know that they’re appreciated while they’re here, and this event gives families the chance to honor the men in their lives.
But, according to Dr. Daniels-Skyes, “as long as you can call them forth, they’re still living.” Some men who were going to be honored pass away before getting the chance, but their spirit lives on through their families.
One of the 2018 R.E.A.L. Fathers’ recipients Reginald Linyear says he used the honoring as a day to sit back and not doing anything—a day with no work.
Linyear works in the church and he says he doesn’t do his work to be recognized.
“Knowing that you’re needed…I felt honored,” he said.
R.E.A.L. Fathers wasn’t created to say that mothers are unimportant, but, instead to uplift men and celebrate the family as a unit.
The event was a success, according to the women. Live music flowed throughout St Martin from violins and other musical instruments. Drummers and dancers along with soul food catered from a Black business filled the audiences’ stomachs.
Mothers are highly praised, and events like R.E.A.L. Fathers is giving men that same recognition.