The “Dad Gang” took names and changed diapers on Father’s Day in Brooklyn.
The proactive group of community leaders took over the entranceway to Prospect Park by the Grand Army Plaza to put a stop to the myth that Black fathers are absent from their children’s lives.
June 20 not only marked Father’s Day, but it also marked the second March of Dads rally, where dozens of fathers strode through the streets by Prospect Park with their children in hand, in strollers, and on their shoulders. The march highlighted men of color within the community who enthusiastically defy racial stereotypes by playing pivotal roles within the family unit.
The Dad Gang was founded in 2016 by Sean Williams after he created an Instagram page exclusively focusing on images depicting active fathers of color to eliminate negative stereotypes that plague Black and Brown men. The idea for this spotlight came after a person approached Williams with his child, stating “I’m glad you stuck around.”
“The reason why we’ve come together is to show solidarity because Black fathers are involved in their children’s lives. Black fathers are very, very active and that’s why we’ve come together to walk with our brothers,” Bronx Councilman Kevin Riley said, describing the occasion as an opportunity for Black fathers to connect and support one another.
Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral candidate Eric Adams also joined the event alongside iconic rapper Fat Joe, and other community-based groups working to show the world the true perspective of Black fathers.
The activists and elected officials present called for more organizational support for young Black men as they enter fatherhood, providing mentorship, education, networking, and other resources to help encourage them to be the best dad they can possibly be.
“This is a reflective moment, just one day after Juneteenth. Brothers we need to be honest about what’s going on, not only in America, but globally. At the fabric of this country, it’s about breaking black boys to become broken adolescents, to becoming broken young men, to becoming broken young fathers. That’s what it has always been. People get upset when I say it, but I am unapologetic about acknowledging the history of this country,” Adams said.
He added that Black men experience the most incarceration and unemployment, and are the primary victims of shootings, arrests, while also the largest group dealing with mental health issues in this country.
Adams declared that it is time to put an end to the generational poverty of Black and Brown men and stand up to make a change.
“They demonize us to say we don’t love our children. They demonize us to state that we don’t want foundational housing. They demonized the whole symbol of being a Black man and what it represents. That’s why this race is so important,” he said.
In addition to breaking down stereotypes, the march afforded attendees an opportunity to bond with their children while also offering support to fellow dads. On Saturday, coordinators sponsored a giveaway, donating 200 strollers in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.