- The Million Father March (A Blackstart Project Initiative)
(FinalCall.com) – When 13-year-old Alonzo Juhans started Greenbelt Middle School in August, he didn’t start alone. His dad, Larry, went to school with him every day for the first week. “He’s starting middle school and I wanted to give him a jump start. I wanted him to have a certain rhythm. I wasn’t going to allow his friends to show him how to change classes and deal in the hallways,” Mr. Juhans told The Final Call.
That head start is exactly what Phillip Jackson, head of the Black Star Project, wanted to see when he organized the Million Father March. Not to come to Washington, D.C. as other marches have, but to have fathers of all races in cities nationwide take their children to school on the first day.
“I want to give tribute to Minister Farrakhan for the Million Man March. That inspired me to do this, along with the fathers in Brazil who go to school with their children on the last day,” Mr. Jackson told The Final Call. “We were in 127 cities and that exceeded our goal of 125. We had 300,000 to 325,000 fathers take their children to school as we move toward the million-father figure. The schools loved us and we’re glad we were there.”
He added, “For the first year of the Million Father March, we were in 25 cities, and we estimated about 35,000 to 40,000 men took their children to school across the country. Last year, the second year of the March, we were in 83 cities, including Auckland, New Zealand, and we estimated about 200,000 men took their children to school.”
The motto for the Million Father March is “Any Man, Any Child. Any School!” and the effort does not end on the first day of school. “We are working on year-round programs to flood schools with strong, talented, giving men who want to make a difference in the lives of children as tutors, mentors, coaches and volunteers,” Mr. Jackson informed.
Why is it important for fathers to take their children to school?
“What if I told you that I knew of a proven way to get students to learn more, faster and better? A way to help children get higher test scores and grade point averages, better attendance and a way to make them more likely to graduate from high school and attend college?” he asked. “It is simply getting men substantially involved in the educational and social developmental lives of their children.”
Mr. Juhans agrees.
“I was the only father that took their child to school that day and it was nothing new for me. I’ve been taking Alonzo to school since kindergarten. I can’t afford a big-name private school, so I have to get involved,” Mr. Juhans shared.
With nearly 70 percent of Black children being born out of wedlock, it has become commonplace for children to be raised by their mothers with very little, if any, contact or influence from their fathers.
At an Aug. 30 press conference in Chicago, Mr. Jackson told the media, “And so today, we launch and celebrate the Million Father March 2006. Not men marching to Washington, D.C. or to city hall, but men marching to their neighborhood schools with children. And by doing so, these men will be marching into the hearts, minds and spirits of their children and they will make an impact on these young people for the rest of their lives.”
The group plans to make November 15, National Men in School Day.
“All over the country, we plan to have men in school,” explained Mr. Jackson. “We’ll also be hall monitors, go on field trips, clean schools and work on school boards.”
(For more information about the Million Father March or the programs of the Black Star Project, please call (312) 842-3527, email [email protected] or visit www.blackstarproject.org or www.millionfathermarch.org.)