Happy Father’s Day
By Claude Jay
In celebration of Father’s Day, a tribute to fathers and the father figures, uncles, cousins, teachers, coaches, mentors, pastors, counselor’s, neighbors and big brothers. Today, many identify celebrities, athletics and movie stars as role models and heroes. However, over looked are those men who are there each day doing what they do, showing they care by providing for their children and families. They are our fathers, the heroes among us.
I see these men every day taking their sons and daughters to school, to the park and to the corner store. I see them on the train, sitting in the park and holding their kids hand crossing the street. These fathers attend school conferences and go over home work when they come in from work or from looking for work. They make sacrifices and have their own challenges. They are not perfect. Some fathers are single parents, cooking dinner and getting clothes ready for school. No they are not the exception; we just do not hear about them, they are among us.
It is a fact; there is more to being a father than having a baby. There are those men who have babies and have no idea where their children are. Then, there are those men who are fathers figures who support and encourage children and they have no idea where the biological fathers are. There are heroes among us.
Just as well, there are those men who step in to relationships and take on the responsibility of father and Dad. Too, there are children who are adopted and through their adoption find their real fathers, the one who cares, the one who is there and the one who will be there, he is the father.
I know these men, these heroes among us, let me introduce you to a few; my father, Claude J. Jones, the oldest of five children help to raise his brothers and sisters, and provide for his parents, grand parents and other relatives. He worked at the United States Post Office for 38 years. He got up at 4:00 am in the morning to get to work. After work he came home, his day varied from tutoring my sisters and me; his civic work included President of the Homewood Brushton Improvement Association, Vice President of the NAACP, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Branch and protests at the board of education. He also was chair of the Deacon Board at Nazarene Baptist Church. An entrepreneur, my Dad had goals and dreams to make it better for his children and his community. He purchased property and also, he and my mother, Jayne M. Jones, a first grade Teacher, own the Belmar Movie Theater. They opened it for business and to have a quality movie theater in the community. I had many jobs at the Belmar Theater including changing the marquee, one of the last movies was, “Midnight Cowboy”. My Dad passed away in 1993, he is my hero.
My Cousin Reginald Daniels, who was more like an uncle and father figure, work as a Motorman for the New York City Transit Authority for over 35 years. When I moved to New York I lived in one of his apartment buildings. He taught me many things. He understood my moving to New York to become a professional singer and actor. It was on my second day in New York, that he asked his good friend actor, Ted Butler to talk to me about show business. Mr. Butler gave me advice on joining the unions, where to study, auditions and more. Advice I listen to and followed. There are heroes among us. Cousin Reginald passed away in 2007, at the age of 94 year old.
Ryan Chester is one of my heroes; he is an extraordinary man and inspiration to write this article. Along with his two daughters, he raised my niece, Taushell, her father, my nephew, Todd died in a car accident. I recently attended Taushell’s High School graduation in Pittsburgh. Ryan and her Mom did a wonderful job; she is heading off to college at the University of Akron. But, there is more, they adopted three children a girl 2 years old, and two boys 4 and 6 years old. Ryan said to me, “the guys at work think I’m crazy for adopting kids.” I said to him, you are not crazy; you are a saving and guiding force and a father to these children. Ryan is a hero among us.
I want to make note of the positive, powerful presence and influence of these fathers on the success and development of these talented celebrities: Richard Williams the father of tennis greats, Venus and Serena Williams. He taught them to play tennis on the asphalt courts of Compton, California. James R. Jordan, Sr., the father of basketball great Michael Jordan, had a court side presence at his sons games. Earl Woods, the father of golf great Tiger Wood’s was the force behind teaching and encouraging him in the game of golf. Willard Smith, Sr., the father of Will Smith’s has been an active presence in Will’s career. Will and Jade are active in their children’s careers. This was evident in, “The Pursuit of Happiness” when Jaden, his son, played his son in the movie. Now, Jaden is starring in the remake of the “Karate Kid”. His daughter Willow and son Tray are actors. There are heroes among us.
Too, there are teachers and professors who often take on the job of father. So, I must include educators: Michael Johnson, New York Public School Teacher and Dean at the Bronx School of Law Government and Justice,
Dr. Ronald K. Barrett, Professor and Acting Chair of the Department of Psychology at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles, California and Dr. Uzee Brown, Chair the Department of Music, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.
There are heroes among.
A hero among us, Lloyd Williams, President of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce is a father. His leadership in Harlem and New York City has been dynamic and steadfast. He is a role model for his son L. Ade’ Williams Community Outreach Manager at the Apollo Theater Foundation, Marko Noble, President of In Joy Enterprises and to many young professional men and women.
Happy Father’s Day! So, when you are looking for a hero look around they are among us, they are our fathers.