As the first day of school approaches, Sept. 4, for all schools not on Track E, a group of more than one million American men were expected to take to the streets this year across the country as part of the Million Father March.
“Education has become a matter of national security,” said Philip Jackson, executive director of The Black Star Project and coordinator of the march. “If we cannot control our schools, then we cannot control our economy. And if we cannot control our economy, then we cannot control and protect our quality of life in America.”
A supporter of the march, Chicago Public Schools’ chief Jean-Claude Brizard, echoed Jackson’s sentiments.
The CPS chief executive officer’s been participating in the march for the last four years in Rochester, NY and looks forward to joining the initiative in Chicago.
“It’s pretty critical. I have three children and I make sure that I take my daughter and son to school on the first day. So often the father’s are missing in the homes and you usually see the mothers and the grandmothers. It’s important for the principals and teachers to see the fathers,” Brizard told the Defender.
Lamar Freeman, who has a daughter entering kindergarten, said he’d have it no other way.
“My father took me to school most of the time and I appreciated that. It was special time that we shared and I look forward to having that same special time with my daughter each morning,” said Freeman, a Far South Side resident.
Jackson said men being heavily involved in the educational pursuits of children will result in better grades, higher test scores and increase their chances of graduating from high school.
More than 760 cities are expected to participate in the march that was founded by a small group of South Side men in 2004.
Men who participate in the event include janitors, lawyers, doctors, technicians, factory workers, bankers, bus drivers, construction workers, policemen and trash collectors, Jackson said.
This year, Jackson wants the group to make sure they include walking the children of military veterans to schools.
“We recognize they may be unable to take their children to school on the first day, or most of the school year. We want men to step up and help those families,” he said.
Additionally, the Black Star Project is asking fathers and other men to volunteer 10 hours of service to their children’s school for a total of 10 million hours of service by the end of the school year.
Jackson said. “The pledge calls for and outlines a yearlong commitment to their children and to the schools they attend.”
The Million Father March Pledge for Fathers and Men
*I will take my children or a child to school and I will be at a school on the first day to encourage all children to do their best every day at school.
*I am responsible for the education of my child.
*I will volunteer at my child’s school three times this school year.
*I will pick up my child’s progress report or grade report when required.
*I will meet with my child’s teachers at least two times this year and support them in educating my child.
*I will mentor my child or a child and I will teach children the values of education and family as well as the value of life.
*I will work with my child’s mother or guardian to achieve the best academic and social outcomes for my child even if I do not live with my child.