|Updated: 4/08/2013 9:55 am
||Published: 4/06/2013 7:22 pm
It’s not uncommon to see single parent households anymore.
Studies show 75% of African American children live in homes without fathers. The lack of that role model leads most of them to drugs, gangs and even prison.
On Saturday, a group of men came together to fill that void.
"It's something about unity," said Damario Solomon-Simmons, one of the organizers, to a group of young boys.
There is something about that word that makes all the difference to the group.
Solomon-Simmons is among dozens of men, who aren’t fathers to these boys, but they are taking on the role anyway.
Tulsa’s MVP Foundation and Former NBA Star Etan Thomas hosted Fatherhood Weekend at Metropolitan Baptist Church on Saturday. More than 400 people attended.
The morning kicked off with the Fatherhood Festival where the kids and teens heard about what it takes to be a man. They also learned how to tie ties, shake hands and why discipline is so important.
"We want to educate are kids not incarcerate them," said Solomon-Simmons.
Research from the U.S. Department of Justice shows black men are six times more likely to go to prison than whites.
"What kept me from going all the way off the wrong track is I had strong black me come into my life,” said Solomon-Simmons. “Teachers, uncles, grandfathers, friends and that's what made me have the opportunity to be a lawyer and a professor."
He stayed on track and made something of himself. He joined Thomas in reaching out to the youth.
"No matter what packet they are in, no matter what they're going through let them know i feel you and I want to hear from you," said Thomas.
Even single mothers, like Star Kenoly, are benefiting from this experience.
"I'm a woman, I can never teach my sons what it is to be a man,” she said. “I can show them the things I would expect a man should do. But I can't give them the example of what a man does because I’m not a man."
It makes the roles these men had Saturday even more important.
"Young people they will listen you just have to take the time to put your arm around them," said Thomas.
Organizers say they hope to make "Fatherhood Weekend" an annual event.