According to historical references, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. I had to look this up because a patient I saw yesterday told me that June 19 was his mother’s birthday. He related that she was born on the first Father’s day and now lived to see the first official celebration of Juneteenth. Father’s Day is a time to honor those men who love and support their families. Loving husbands and fathers make a difference during difficult times. The men in my family have been such shining examples of great fathers. My brothers-in-law, uncles, and cousins are wonderful Dads to their sons and daughters. On Monday mornings, I have a call with my collaborators on a project. One of them always has to wake up his princess and get her to school. It is 6:30 in his time zone. The other is usually driving to work. So we always get an update on the kids. For me, my dads were my many Uncles. They were always there to provide love and support. My stepfather taught me to drive, and though the initial experience was full of drama, I passed the test. I can still merge onto freeways with great ease and respect for semi-truck drivers.
My husband spent many days taking our son to the Pediatrician alone for shots. It was challenging to get away from my training and, later, the office. He did soccer games, tennis lessons, and all the homework. He was the Book Fair volunteer; he and another Dad would make sure the kids made intelligent book choices. He was the chaperone on the school trips. He made all the visits to the orthodontist for the brace, found the Barber for the haircuts, and scheduled the music lessons. He cooked all our meals and even did the laundry. I met him a few years after his divorce. After we started dating, I met his son and daughter when they were ages 7 and 8. I decided to put his daughter’s hair in a neater style. She was so cute. Black fathers have been the victim of stereotypes of being absent and uninvolved. They are nothing but that. Despite the challenges they faced during the brutality of being enslaved, they managed to care for their children. After being freed, many sought to find their families. Historically, America has always minimized their success, and they are victims of structural and institutional racism. Yet, they skillfully and lovingly coach their children in all sports. They sometimes choose not to confront teachers, or if they do, it is to prevent their wives from being seen as “angry black women” No, that’s true. I always sent my husband to the school to handle any concerns expressed by the principal. It always worked out well.
So as we celebrate this Father’s day on June 19 and also recognize the first official recognition of Juneteenth as a national holiday, let’s commit to the work of righting history.
Happy Father’s Day!!!!