Black Dads Speak: What does fatherhood mean to you?

As Father's Day approaches, Charlotte dads share insight about their fatherhood journeys.
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Leading up to Father’s Day, we’re talking with Charlotte men as part of our “Black Dads Speak” series. It features brief conversations that meet at the intersection of being a Black man and a Black dad.

We ended our conversations by asking, “What does fatherhood mean to you?”

Here’s what they had to say:


Roderick Macon Sr.

(Pictured above) Father of two sons, ages 22 and 16, and a 19-year-old daughter.

A lot of times, we focus on what we can teach our kids and try to get them to go in the right direction. But over these last 22 years, I have actually learned more from my kids. Being a father has really changed my life. It has really made me focus on what’s important. I look to those guys for as much guidance as they look to me.

The world I grew up in is not the world they’re growing up in now. There’s no better way for me to keep a pulse on what’s going on now than to listen to my kids and try to be open to everything that they say and everything that they see. It keeps me young and keeps me in tune with those guys, and I think it helps build a relationship with them.

Rory Sheriff

Father of four, ranging from age 18 to 30.

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Fatherhood is everything. It’s being the type of father to my kids that I felt that I needed. My dad wasn’t there growing up, so I’m the type of dad that if they need to talk to someone, they need a voice of reason, that’s me. If they need encouraging, without knowing that they need encouraging, that’s me. I’m all things to them that I felt was missing in my life.

Kevin Gatlin

Father of two sons, ages 7 and 16.

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Kevin Gatlin with his two sons. Photo courtesy of Kevin Gatlin

I have to go back to a couple of the things my dad instilled in me, which is to always be a father, to always be a husband, and to always be a son. Just focus on those things and you’ll be able to raise a family.

The other thing that he told me, and I live by this, “Always take care of your mama.” (laughs)

Read the full interview.

Emmanuel Threatt

Father of an 8-year-old son.

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Emmanuel Threatt pictured with his 8-year-old son. Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Threatt
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Fatherhood means being there, being present. It means being someone they can count on and showing them love and grace. It’s deeper than just having kids; it’s taking time to help mold them into the person they were meant to be.

Jermaine Jennings

Father of two daughters, ages 17 and 5, and a 14-year-old son.

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Jermaine and his wife (right) pictured with their three kids. Photo: QCity Metro

Fatherhood means protection, provision (not just from the financial side but also being able to provide emotional support), being present in a healthy way and being hard when necessary. It’s providing love from that masculine side to let them know that I love them and I’m proud of them.

Justin Perry

Father of a 6-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.

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Charlotte native Justin Perry pictured with his two kids. Photo courtesy of Justin Perry

Fatherhood is one of the greatest gifts. It’s a blessing. It’s one of the greatest responsibilities, one of the greatest challenges. Fatherhood means putting somebody else before me. My son and my daughter are top priorities for me, and by extension, their mother is a top priority for me. 

It means I have a duty to be an example and to teach my son how to be a great man. I have the responsibility to teach my daughter how to be a great woman. Also, for them to seek out friends and relationships with other people who want the best for them and want to bring out the best in them.

Read the full interview.

Gary Young

Father of a 10-year-old daughter.

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Photo courtesy of Gary Young

I love fatherhood because you’re shaping the future of a human being. This is somebody who is going to be a future leader in this world.

I always say it takes a special man to be a father to a young girl. There’s something that a young girl gets from having a father figure consistently present in her life. You’re always going to worry about your daughter regardless of how old she is; she’s always going to be your baby.

Ryan Jor El

Father of a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.

I grew up without a father, so I knew what not to do. As I became a father and progressed, I realized that this is kind of my thing. It’s something that I learned, and make mistakes on, but some of those mistakes I’m able to tell people about.

Fatherhood, to me, is a lifestyle. I live, eat, sleep, breathe fatherhood and how not only to become a better father but also make sure that people around me are becoming better fathers.

Cedric Lundy

Father of a 9-year-old daughter.

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Photo courtesy of Cedric Lundy

The first word that comes to mind is stewardship and the second word is legacy. She is not my property. She is someone I have stewardship of and with that comes great responsibility. Then, of course, a legacy that she gets to carry forward into the future and pass down to the next generation.

Jah Smalls

Father of two sons, ages 29 and 26, and a 19-year-old daughter.

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Jah Smalls, a father of three, is pictured with his only daughter. Photo courtesy of Jah Smalls

The journey of fatherhood is amazing, but it’s very frightening. There’s no perfect road map for fatherhood. However, when you don’t have any direction, it’s dangerous, it’s tender, it’s scary. There’s so much to ask that I don’t even know where to begin. The challenge of it is still a beautiful thing.

Read the full interview.

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1 Comment

This article has 1 comment.

  1. I enjoyed being a father , it give me a chance to correct my childhood , to give my Daughters the proper foundation, love and support . well written.

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