The 2023 Honor Thy Father Awards paid tribute to the historical Leimert Park Village under the umbrella of A.V.V.A.L.P. and Africa Town in honor of their Juneteenth celebration. 

From left are Nike Davis, Dean Martin, Virgil E. Coleman, Ronnie R. Gardner, and Carl D. Hughes. (Nadra photo)

Estelle for Humanity co-sponsored the event, which paid tribute to five outstanding fathers whose love, leadership and enduring commitment have made a profound impact on their families and communities.  As founder Denise Estelle explained, “These individuals embody the essence of fatherhood, inspiring us with their dedication, achievements, and unwavering support. 

 “Their stories are a testament to the power of fatherly love and the lasting legacy they are building for future generations.” 

 The honorees were Nike Davis, Virgil E. Coleman, Carl Hughes, Ronnie Gardner, and Dean Martin. 

 Davis received the recipient of “More Than a Father – An Activist and Coach” award for extending his love beyond his family to embrace the community as well.  “Not only is he a devoted father, but also a beloved activist who uses his voice and passion for positive change,” said Estelle.   Davis also coaches his son’s team, which he led to several championships along with teaching the youngsters teamwork, resilience, and sportsmanship. 

 Coleman, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday, accepted the “pioneering Excellence and Inspiring Generations” award. In 1985, he became the first African American superintendent for L.A. Department of Water and Power. Estelle said, “His trailblazing achievements and unwavering dedication inspire future generations to dream big and overcome barriers.” 

 Hughes was presented with ‘The Hugger: Spreading Unconditional Love” award.  His family calls him “the hugger” because Hughes constantly expresses his affection for his loved ones. “Carl leads his family with unconditional love and tenderness. He nurtures an environment of love and support,” noted Estelle. 

 Gardner earned the “From Protector to Devoted Father” award in reference to caring for his siblings at a very young age.  As an adult father, Estelle shared, “Ronnie continues to embody the values of trust and loyalty, fiercely protecting and supporting the people he loves.”  She added the Gardner inspired everyone who knows him. 

 Martin won the “Engaged Father Embracing Generations” award because he remains actively involved in the lives of his seven children, 30 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.  According to Estelle, “Dean’s unwavering presence and guidance exemplify the significance of family and the power of a father’s love.” 

Sharing that attendees were uplifted and encouraged by the lives of the honorees, Estelle concluded, “Their stories inspire us to cherish the bonds we share with our own father and appreciate the lasting impact they have on our lives.  

 “May their exceptional journeys serve as a reminder of the remarkable contributions of fathers everywhere and the enduring legacy they create for future generations.”