It all started with an article in Essence magazine about the love one man has for his "baby girl."
Ed Gordon, host of the nationally syndicated show "Our World with Black Enterprise" wrote a loving article about his then 12 year old daughter, Taylor Nicole Gordon, admitting from the very beginning that like most men, he dreamed of having a little boy, and he really never even considered having a daughter. Gordon writes that after he learned that indeed he was going to be the father of a baby girl, he shared the good news with his brother who already was the father of a little girl. He told Gordon, "You're about to experience a love that is unmatched, a special unconditional love."
In the Essence article Gordon not only discussed the relationship he and his daughter shared, but also highlighted the responsibilities fathers have in raising strong, loving and positive daughters.
Gordon writes; "Fathers must not just protect. We must also teach our daughters to be confident and capable as we would insist our sons should be. It's about being there and being involved."
Apparently the article, which appeared in the 2006 December issue of Essence, struck a cord with readers, and letters poured into the magazine about life with and without fathers. Gordon says it was overwhelming. In a telephone interview he says, "Once I saw the response, I knew I had to do something else." As a result, he created "Daddy's Promise" an initiative designed to focus attention on the African American community and the positive relationship that can and should exist between fathers and daughters.
Since the article, Gordon has spoken with a variety of women, from all walks of life about the fathers in their lives, or life without a father. He says a number of black women attribute their success in life to the lasting influence of their fathers. Those raised without the father influence discussed how it impacted decisions they made, which ultimately worked against them.
Gordon says, "I think it's really important to understand how important father's are in the lives of their daughters when it comes to shaping and helping to mold their lives." He believes society as a whole doesn't look to the father as a nurturer; this compounded with the erosion of the family across America, further complicates the father-daughter relationship.
The African American community has a disproportionate number of absentee fathers for a variety of reasons. But legal separations or divorce should not keep a father away from his daughter or daughters. Gordon, who is divorced, has kept his relationship with his daughter strong.
Through a national campaign, the "Daddy's Promise" initiative will encourage fathers to be actively involved in their daughter's lives. The movement gives this relationship a voice and creates a nationwide conversation with African American families, ultimately celebrating fathers and father figures.
"Daddy's Promise" includes a symbolic component that will encourage men to sign a pledge and make a public acknowledgement of love and support for their daughters. It also consists of principles and guidelines to assist in fostering positive relationships between fathers and daughters.
For more information on "Daddy's Promise" go to www.daddyspromise.com; it's a great site, and fathers and daughters can add their pictures to the growing gallery of African American fathers and daughters that will be seen around the world.
Organizations such as 100 Black Men have also joined the "Daddy's Promise" movement. Keep a close eye on what will be happening in LA when the initiative is put into action.
- Gail Choice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org