On the brink of Father’s Day, the DMV Fatherhood Coalition — comprised of 100 Fathers Inc. and the Alliance of Concerned Men — banded together for a motivational community conversation, with the message for younger fathers to not give up.
The organizations’ event, titled “The Youth Speak,” featured Franklyn Malone, CEO of the 100 Fathers, who emphasized the importance of fatherhood discussions.
“We are the celebrating the the success, sacrifice and determination of our fathers,” Malone said. “Our call for action as a community has arrived and we as fathers must stand up, speak up and step out for our families and children.”
The panel session also featured youth advocate Ivan Cloyd, Minister Abdul Kaleem Muhammad and two D.C. youth challenged with teenage fatherhood, homelessness, low economic areas and absentee fathers, including Dewayne, an 18-year-old father of Southeast.
“This is my first child and I’m here to talk about what it means to be a young father,” Dewayne said. “I’m already seeing now that once you have a kid, it no longer becomes about you, but the kid. I am ready to learn what I need to do in order to excel not just for myself but for my child and to really learn what it means to be a great dad despite not having the opportunity to grow up with mine.”
During the panel, moderator Henry “Discombobulating” Jones also focused on “youth choices” and showed audience members the 1978 film “Scared Straight!,” a documentary about a group of juvenile delinquents’ encounters with real-life convicts, in order to open up the conversation on making good choices regarding fatherhood.
After the film, Jones posed a question to Cloyd on youth choices and what he believes the next generation should know about waiting to have children.
“I had my first child when I was 18,” said Cloyd, now 26. “At the end of the day, I didn’t have a source or point of reference to look at to show me how to be a father or even how not to be one. A lot of the times young fathers come from other young men not having fathers.
“Get with strong people in your community and see what they are saying and doing and learn from them,” he said. “Pursue your dreams, because you don’t want to have children a day before you’re actually ready.”