ROANOKE, Va. – To close out Black History Month, organizations in the Roanoke Valley hosted a fireside chat on Monday, focusing on being a Black father.
“The idea of the program was to offer the community the opportunity to hear how Black men value, honor and cherish the role of fatherhood,” said the founder of Black Father Family, Ryan Bell.
Bell says the mission of Monday night’s event was to hear the experiences of other Black fathers, like panelists, founder of Apple Ridge Farm, Peter Lewis and former pastor of Loudon Avenue Christian Church, Dr. William Lee
“I think we will put down a lot of men, especially Black men if they don’t fit a certain model. I think some of them did the best they could with what they had at that time,” said Lee. “We are talking about the heart of segregation, Jim Crow Laws. I think a lot of Black men were excellent fathers given the context that they grew up in.”
Panelists agree that encouraging young Black men and fathers begins with older role models who help show what to do or what not to.
“Can we bring out some old heads to help guide these young bucks,” said Lewis.
Organizers hope the conversations from the event can be the first steps towards more education and change.
“If we are able to sit down and have constructive dialogue and not just talk but be able to put some things into action after that’s the way we move society forward. We have to be able to have those difficult conversations,” said Bell.
Organizers hope to plan more fireside chats like these in the near future.