It is Time to Honor Our Fathers

by Mike Ramey

(Mike Ramey, a member of the national Advisory Committee of the African-American leadership group Project 21, is an associate minister at the Greater St. Mark Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.)

A New Visions Commentary paper published July 1997 by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax (202) 543-5975, E-Mail, Web Reprints permitted provided source is credited.


Dr. E.V. Hill, noted pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, has, on several occasions, told national audiences about the relationship he had with his father.

Hill pulls no punches about his upbringing. His parents divorced when he was young. He did not see his father following the divorce until his later teens, and then it was only once.

But the time came when God brought his father back into his life. Hill was an adult then, firmly established in the ministry. Over time, Hill's bitterness turned to admiration, then to forgiveness, then to genuine love for his dad.

Not only did the two reconcile, they renewed their bond as father and son. A bond no government program, bureaucratic rule, or cultural meltdown can break.

Hill explained once, when recounting his relationship with his father, that he realized he was his dad, all over again. The same holds true for many of us today.

My own dad passed away in 1979. While there were times that were not all rosy, I still fondly cherish his memory, because I have realized that I am truly my father, all over again.

It may be in vogue to trash our dads. Heaven knows that it is the "politically correct" thing to do. Movies reflect how ineffective our fathers are today. Newspaper articles and magazine cover stories exalt the joy of motherhood, but treat fatherhood as an "occupational side effect" of the human biological process.

Yet, the scriptural basis of parental honor is quite plain. "Honor your father and mother, and your days will be long."

As a nation, we have spent far too much time honoring our mothers for our birth, and forgetting our fathers for our stability. However, when we study the facts about our dads, especially in the black community, we cannot escape from the single truth that all of the social prosperity we enjoy today comes from the sacrifices they made yesterday.

Black fathers grew up in a time when racism was visible, educational opportunities were limited, and a man's word was his bond. When dad spoke "in the house," his word was law, whether he was a Christian, or not. Black fathers had the love of their wives, who took that love and made sure the kids were raised on the right track.

And, my brother and my sister, when mom said "wait until your dad gets home," the fear of God crept over you.

My dad, George W. Ramey, had the gift of talking to anyone, regardless of color or political beliefs. He could turn any stranger into a friend. He was firm in his beliefs of working hard to get ahead, protecting his family, and instilling in his children a sense of pride in our people and our country.

He was not perfect. Many of our fathers and mothers are just regular people, full of the same faults, frailities and shortcomings as everyone else.

We keep hearing about "single-parent families." However, when one looks at the statistics, it is clear that two-parent families are still in charge of our destiny.

All we have to do is shed the blinders.

We have achieved economic progress, earned educational degrees and enjoyed all the trappings of success because of the sacrifices, hopes and dreams of our fathers and mothers.

So, if you didn't do it at Father's Day this year, remember what your dad has done for you instead of dwelling on what more you want him to do for you.

Don't bash him in the name of "political correctness." Honor him with your words and deeds. Remember what he taught you, no matter how small it was. Do this so that your days, and the days of our communities, will be long. Because, if the truth be told... you are your dad -- and mom -- all over again.





Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author and not necessarily those of Project 21.


>>>>>Return to Project 21 Index

>>>>>Return to National Center Home Page