Fourteen fathers and their families were honored Sunday at the Proud Bird Restaurant for their roles as exemplary fathers, husbands, and role models.
Denise Estelle, president of Estelle and Associates, who founded the Annual Awards Dinner Ceremony which is in its seventh year, praised the husbands, brothers, uncles and male mentors who are selflessly giving back to their families and communities.
“Fathers, you are so important,” Estelle told the 2008 honorees. “This is the only event I know where families can roll out the red carpet and say, thank you for being a good role model. ‘Thank you for going to work everyday, for putting food on the table, for changing diapers and for taking out the trash.’ This is not just a celebration of fathers, but a celebration of life and family,” said Estelle.
Assisting in handing out tributes and plaques to the awardees were master of ceremonies and motivational speaker Gerald Foster and mistress of ceremonies and author Pearl Jr.
Co-producer of the event was Jerry Kiper of Kia and Associates.
Keynote speaker for the event was Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach Michael Cooper, who broke away from the Staples Center during the final Lakers playoffs to deliver words of praise and inspiration to the honorees. Cooper emphasized that fathers play an integral part in building and maintaining strong communities.
“We need more African American fathers to step forward and be good role models,” maintained Cooper, the father of four children. “I made a decision to be a good father. When you have children looking up to you, it’s important that you set a good example for them to follow. You have to say to yourself, ‘I think I can be a good father, therefore I will.’ No one else is going to take on that responsibility.”
Cooper also urged the males in the audience to reach out to other young fatherless males in the community. “If there’s a young person who you’re close to, please try to be a mentor to that young person. Stay strong and firm and continue to be good fathers.”
World renowned sculptor Tina Allen expressed her gratitude to Honor Thy Father for being honored with the Illuminating the Journey Award. Allen is recognized for shaping African American history through her sensitive and compelling sculptures that capture the dignity and strength of African American leaders. Among her many works, Allen has been commissioned to sculpt entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, and community activist Celes King III.. The gifted artist said she had just received a commission to sculpt images of civil rights icon Ralph Bunche and the four little girls who were killed in a Birmingham church during the height of the civil rights movement.
“My life has not been about moaning and groaning,” said Allen. “God is using me with his hands to write our history in bronze.”
Tim Watkins, president and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), and the father of eight children, received the Celes King III Prestigious Award by community activist and businessman Celes King IV.
King praised Watkins for his tireless work at WLCAC that provides 50 outreach programs, feeds seniors, provides interventionists for gang youth and foster children and employs dozens of Watts citizens.
Watkins is considered a father figure not only to his own children, but by the many men he employs in his organization. “There are a lot of men in Watts who are walking a straight line because we took the time to love them unconditionally,” said Watkins. “All it takes is care and concern to help turn someone’s life around.”
Receiving the 2008 Living the Commitment Award were Celes King IV and David Sanchez, Ph.D, president of Mexican American University and founder of the Brown Berets. The two honorees were recognized for broadcasting public service announcements denouncing interracial violence between blacks and browns.
Other fathers honored included Clinton Arnold, Charles Elroy Brister Jr., Everett Courtney, Gerry Foster, Harold B. Hunt, Clifford Legauz, Joe A. Monroe, Steven G. Sparks, Pastor Kevin E. Stafford, Millard Tatum, Russell Harrison, Russell Taurin Harrison, Alphonse Triplette, and Omar Javon Woodruff.