Phillip Jackson, founder of the Black Star Project, greeted children and parents on their first day of school at Mollison Elementary Tuesday. Third Ward Ald. Pat Dowell, members of the Chicago Corvette Club, Chicago Public Schools Chief Community and Family Officer, Phillip Hampton and the representatives from the Christian STEM Scholars Academy also attended.
Jackson and nine other Chicago fathers created the Million Father March in 2004 to encourage more fathers to engage and invest in their child or children’s education early on by first taking them to school.
“We have found that when fathers are actively engaged in the educational and social development of their children, their children do better in school, they do better on tests, they have better attendance, they have better conduct, all of that, that they’re less likely to get involved with drugs,” he said. “Young girls are less likely to become pregnant, young boys are less likely to become involved with violence and gangs, simply from the magic of a father taking their children to school.”
Last Saturday was the annual Million Father March Parade.
Dixther Douglas said he’s trying to be the best father he can be for his three year-old daughter, Janiya. Douglas said it’s important for him to show his daughter at an early age that he’s invested in her education.
“I wouldn’t want my daughter out here in the streets,” he said, adding that his parents always made sure he went to school every day growing up. “I have to make sure I do the same thing so she won’t fall into these streets with all this violence.”
Kory Wilson brought daughter Saniah to her first day of 2nd grade. He said that when fathers bring their children to school, they are becoming role models. Wilson also said that depending on the community, some youth grow up “jaded.” If more parents and guardians begin to show their child early on that school is important and that they are invested in the children, they will become motivated to do well, he said.
“I think starting off young, letting the child see that they that had support from day one, it gives them an extra boost to keep going,” Wilson said.