Fathers “march” their kids to school


August 16th, 2011

Omaha, NE – Hundreds of kids throughout the Omaha metro started school on Monday. At Mount View Elementary School, fathers, big brothers, uncles and mothers, along with teachers and elected officials greeted the kids as they walked through the doors.

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Many people throughout the city of Omaha took their kids to school for the first day of classes. It’s part of a nationwide effort, organized by the Black Star Project, aimed to get fathers involved in their children’s lives. Students gathered in the gym with their superhero and princess-designed backpacks ready to go, as they listened to Philip Jackson read Dr. Suess’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

“You all know Brother Seuss!” Jackson shouted. “Congratulations! Today is your day, you’re off to great places, you’re on your way!”

Jackson is the founder and president of the Black Star Project. In 2003, with 10 black men in a church basement on the south side of Chicago, Jackson started the Million Father March Movement.

“This is a movement of men doing the most important march of their lives,” Jackson said. “Not a march to Washington, not a march to the state capitol or city hall, but a march into the hearts, minds and spirits of their children.”

In 2009 in Nebraska, 55 percent of children living in poverty were led by single mothers. Jackson said he believes fathers must take an active role in their children’s lives.

“When men are actively involved in the education and social development of their children,” Jackson said, “children get higher test scores, have higher grade point averages, have better attendance, are more likely to graduate from elementary school and high school.”

“And conversely,” he added, “when men are involved, children are less likely to become involved with gangs, drugs, and alcohol. Children are less likely to be suspended … expelled, and even girls are less likely to become pregnant, if their fathers are actively involved in their lives.”

El-Lamons Hopkins took his second grade son to school Monday. With the help of programs like this, Hopkins said he’ll continue to take part in his son’s life.

“A lot of fathers are doing the same thing all the time,” Hopkins said. “Usually it’s the mother bringing the child in all the time, this is a little different for me, but I enjoy it.”

Nationwide organizers say over one million people will participate in this movement, which has moved beyond color, gender and language lines.

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