Father to Son: Prominent Fathers Give Fatherly Advice on Father's Day

Ebony, June 1993 | Go to article overview

Father to Son: Prominent Fathers Give Fatherly Advice on Father's Day


ACTING on the assumption that father knows best--at least when it comes to telling Junior how to straighten up and fly right--EBONY approached six highly distinguished fathers with the request to dispense some fatherly advice to young Black male Americans. The request for some heart-to-heart talk from "father to son" was prompted by EBONY's increasing awareness that if any group is in desperate need of sound advice and direction, it is young African-American men, many of whom live on the cutting edge of poverty and despair. There is hardly a single group in America that is more embattled and beset with problems, and thus more endangered, than young Black men. Their problems run the gamut from a hostile racist environment, unemployment, gang pressure, substandard housing and substandard schools to drug trafficking, substance abuse and incarceration, to name only a few.

Recognizing the seriousness of the situation and eager to do something about it, the fathers selected by EBONY took time out from their extremely busy schedules and obliged. They are Roland W. Burris, Illinois attorney general; Bill Cosby, entertainer, educator and philanthropist; Dr. W.W. Herenton, mayor of Memphis, Tenn.; Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow Coalition president and Washington, D.C., shadow senator; Percy E. Sutton, chairman emeritus of Inner City Broadcasting; and L. Douglas Wilder, governor of Virginia.

Featured here in alphabetical order are the fathers and the "father to son" advice they offer on Father's Day in the spirit of Langston Hughes' famous "Mother to Son" poem.

Roland W. Burris Attorney General State of Illinois Father of one son and one daughter

AS the father of a young African-American male, I have not always been able to give the quantity of time that I would like to have given, but the time we spent together was quality time that helped to steer his life across a successful path.

I often have the opportunity to speak to young men like you all across our state and nation, and my advice is the same I gave my own son: You must set goals; you must think about how the future will turn out for those who dare to dream. You must focus on those dreams and then be motivated to turn them into reality. The tools to use to accomplish those goals are the "Three Ps"--Preparation, Patience and Perseverance. You have to prepare, stay in school, get an education, learn all you can while you're sitting on your can.

As you are working toward your goals, be patient. Success does not happen overnight. It took me 25 years to reach my goal of becoming a statewide official. Things do not happen when you want them to. You must be patient.

Next you must persevere. There will be obstacles in your way, roadblocks, people trying to deny you, but you must not use that as an excuse to give up. Remember, a quitter never wins and a winner never quits.

Also remember that you need a clean mind if you want to succeed. Refrain from behavior that can hamper your success. Don't do drugs, don't get involved in criminal situations. If you take this advice and use it as a tool to reach your goals, you can look forward to raising your own son so he, too, can become an asset to our society.

Bill Cosby Entertainer, Educator, Philanthropist Father of one son and four daughters

GETTING an education is no longer an option, my son--it is a need! If we wait to keep hoping for money to suddenly appear and improve conditions at your school, you will die uneducated. I'll do what I can as your father to help you. This includes meeting with your teachers and protesting when there is injustice. However, you as the student must do your part and achieve education by any means necessary. When Malcolm used these words, he didn't mean just holding a gun by the window. Without education there will be no empowerment for our people.

When you watch your favorite TV commercials, you need to apply what you hear to your actions in school. …

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