This past Sunday (Fathers Day) I was Blessed with the honor of receiving an award from the Mablean Ephriam Foundation for being a good father. Some even said I was a Great Father. While it is great to receive such an honor my children Taelor (23), Danny III (20) and Devyn and Bryce (twins 18) have enriched my life as much as I have enriched their lives.
It starts with spending time with each other. All kids really want is your time and attention. Reading, telling stories and sharing quality time is what has laid the foundation for them not only as students but as people. Taelor just recently graduated from USC, Danny studied at the University of Arizona, Devyn will be leaving us this Summer to attend Howard University and Bryce is going to begin her freshman year at USC in August as well.
I think back to when they were young and we used to just sit around, someone would break out a book and I would begin reading to them. We would laugh and play, but little did I realize that it would be the foundation for their education in the years to come. Devyn loves to read, in fact she is off to Howard to major in English and her dream is to become a writer. Taelor graduated from USC with a degree in communications and her reading and writing ability all started with those little moments we shared when they were kids. Their mom was a teacher so she really understood the importance of reading. Both their grandmothers (Aline and Olean) read to them and they enjoyed every minute of it.
Now that my kids are grown, I still realize the importance of laying that foundation to young people and try and get out as often as I can to share my time and talents with children. It is important for both young men and young women particularly young people of African descent to see men taking time out to spend with them. Children have always gravitated to me, it is just a gift from God and I get no more pleasure than when I can share time with them reading, sharing stories and then discussing how the adventures we just read relate to their own individual lives.
The great thing I have learned is to share with others and I have passed this on to my kids. They equally love to share their time helping those less fortunate by teaching, mentoring and sharing their personal love for reading with others. I guess you can say it is a family affair.
Marcus Garvey is an amazing school right in the heart of South Los Angeles, it has created an educational environment that enriches these children’s lives and is a breeding ground for young, beautiful and nurturing minds. While their story does not get told often enough, it is the kind of haven that every and any parent would love for their child to experience. I encourage everyone to go and experience it for themselves first hand. Share your love for reading, your love of books, your love for knowledge and I can assure you these wonderful, beautiful and talented children will suck it up like a sponge.
I also want to encourage everyone, but particularly men to spend time with their children and read together. First, read to your children, then have your children read to you. Not only will you be sharing the joys of education and reading with each other but you will be creating moments and memories that will last a lifetime.
Please join the Los Angeles Sentinel in partnership with First 5 California to be part of the TALK. READ. SING. It changes everything! To participate in this campaign please submit photos of your talking, reading or singing to your child under the age of 5 to firstname.lastname@example.org We will use your photo as part of a collage of our readership. The photo will appear in a future edition of the Los Angeles Sentinel and will also be on the First 5 California website.
Danny J. Bakewell, Jr.
Los Angeles Sentinel