George Gordon II. (Photo: Whitehouse.gov)
No child should grow up without a good relationship with his dad. Sadly, that is not the case in many Black homes. According to the government statistics, more than 70 percent of Black children are born to unwed mothers. But George Gordon II and Thabiti Boone are breaking the mold for the White House and the rest of the world to see.
George Gordon II was just on the brink of manhood at age 21, when his life turned upside down. With no parental guidance, he was broke and had nowhere to go except the streets. He was found himself homeless but he was not alone. His baby son was by his side. His child’s mother wanted nothing to do with being a parent so George had to grow up fast.
"I had to do what I had to do to take care of not only me, but my son too. I really had no choice but to not give up," Gordon said.
Luckily for Gordon, he found out about a program in Chicago called New Hope, which is run by the Catholic Charities. The HUD-funded program set him up with housing and along the way, he learned valuable life skills, job-training and parenting techniques.
Today, at 24 years old, George works long hours to pay the bills and says his son is still his main priority. “It was up to me to stop these generational cycles and to start a new family history by being in my son’s life,” Gordon said. “Think about how different the world would be if we had more fathers in our homes.”
Gordon has become a role model to other young men he meets, an honor that got the attention of the White House last week. He was among 12 outstanding dads invited to =the White House as part of its Champions of Change event. The fathers shared the struggles they endured for the sake of their children, and met with Obama administration officials.
For former college basketball all-star Thabiti Boone, participating in the initiative is a way of helping children. “I grew up in a neighborhood where there were no dads around and I always wanted to know what it was like to have an engaged dad because I didn’t have that,” Boone said. “This is not really about the president, it’s not even about fathers, it’s about our children.” Boone has agreed to mentor Gordon because he knows first-hand how difficult being a single dad can be.
Boone became a father at age 19. And when he was offered the chance to play basketball in college, he couldn't leave his daughter behind. “I wanted to be a successful dad. I wanted to break the barriers. I didn’t want my name to be on the list of those who walked away from their child,” Boone said. He was presented with the opportunity to live out his dream of playing in the NBA. Knowing how challenging it would be to juggle a basketball and a baby, he opted for a more stable career practicing law. “I said if I can overcome what I’ve overcome, I can help other fathers to encourage them to be passionate and become the dad that our dads wanted to be,” he said.
Boone is passionate about fatherhood and helping other men becoming successful parents. He is the International Representative for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. As a former New York Theological Seminary Adjunct Professor, Thabiti created and taught the first-ever course on Fatherhood and Black Males and its Biblical impact and implications on the role and influence of the church and community. He is also an advisor to Fathers and Men of Professional Basketball Players Inc.
On Saturday, President Obama, the product of a single-mother home, spoke passionately about fatherhood in this week’s presidential address. He said, "My administration has offered men who want to be good fathers a little extra support. We’ve boosted community and faith-based groups focused on fatherhood, partnered with businesses to offer opportunities for fathers to spend time with their kids at the bowling alley or ballpark, and worked with military chaplains to help deployed dads connect with their children. We’re doing this because we all have a stake in forging stronger bonds between fathers and their children."
To learn more about the government’s focus on fatherhood, log on Fatherhood.gov.