Honoring Black Fatherhood

Rewriting the narrative on Black fatherhood.

Clinton Boyd, Jr., Ph.D., is a former ZERO TO THREE fellow as well as the Executive Director of Fathers, Families, & Healthy Communities and a Researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. His research interests include child well-being, father involvement, neighborhood and spatial inequality, evidence-based practice research, criminal justice policy, and place-based social policy. At Fathers, Families, and Healthy Communities (FFHC), he works directly with fathers to foster communities of support in hopes of eliminating their sense of isolation and empowering them to be engaged in the lives of their children and families. The organization’s Young Fathers Initiative works with Black fathers between the ages of 17-21 to nurture their caregiving skills and focus on their future as well as the future they envision for their children.

“Whenever I think about Black fatherhood on a personal front, I immediately reflect on the countless Black men in my family who are committed, exceptional, loving, and perfectly imperfect fathers. Ever since I could remember, the Black men in my family have challenged conventional wisdom about Black fathers: that persistently stereotype us as absent, irresponsible, and “deadbeat” dads. Rather than prove the stereotype accurate, I have observed the Black men in my family debunk these myths about Black fatherhood. When I became a young father at the tender age of 15, the Black men in my family served as good examples of great fathers to pattern myself after.

“Informed by my experiences as a Black father, my professional work seeks to rewrite the narrative on Black fatherhood through rigorous research and grassroots organizing.”

As the U.S. population becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, I am heartened by the courage displayed by advocates to push for culturally responsive teaching to become a mainstay in the early childhood field. In a pluralistic society, the educational system must validate and affirm students’ cultures and ensure that the strengths of each child’s culture are reflected throughout the learning environment and within the school curriculum.

Culturally responsive teaching is especially important for Black children, as not-so-subtle efforts are underway to rewrite our country’s true, if sometimes unpleasant, history by suppressing discussions about race, racial inequality, and racial pride in America’s public school classrooms. As our nation enters the next frontier of racial justice advocacy, we must resist present-day efforts to whitewash our public education system and strive to create anti-racist early childhood environments.”


Browse ZERO TO THREE resources on fatherhood.

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