Reginald Williams
Special to the AFRO

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, Black fathers are more engaged in the lives of their children than any other population of fathers– even when a father lives apart from their child.

One might ask why the propensity to color Black fathers with hues of negligent behaviors  is so prevalent.

Despite empirical data revealing the dedication of Black fathers, their supposed absence is the prevailing narrative being lifted and promoted.

Black fathers, at large, are present and active in their children’s lives, not missing in action. However, there exists a population of fatherless children whose lives are broken because of their non-existent relationship with their dads. This is where Calvin Mann enters the picture.

Mann is founder and CEO of Good Fathers Only (GFO), a Detroit-based non-profit dedicated to building a fatherhood union of like-minded men. He agrees that the image and importance of Black fathers are misrepresented and undervalued. In many situations where fathers are absent, they don’t leave but are ousted from their child’s lives.

Mann defines fatherhood in much broader, more in-depth terms.

“Kids need both parents, and it is on us to make sure that they have them,”

“Fatherhood is a solution,” Mann shared. He believes fathers must be valued, acknowledged and celebrated because the lives of their families and future generations depend on good fathers. 

Mann’s views on the value of fatherhood run much deeper than just a father’s presence around the home. As valued as mothers are, Mann preaches a father brings an unmatched value to the family. The truth is that a father is needed by more than just his children, explained Mann.

“I need my daddy. I needed my daddy,” Mann said, embodying the inner voice of a child. “The community needs my daddy. The block needs my daddy. The school needs my daddy. The job needs my daddy. The woman needs my daddy and education needs my daddy. Because without him, look at all the dysfunction that takes place.”

Studies by the University of Delaware and Duke University affirm Mann’s stance. The studies revealed that approximately 70 percent of school dropouts, runaways, delinquents and child murderers are products of fatherless homes. Additional effects of fatherlessness are:

  • 63 percent of all children who commit suicide
  • 70 percent of all teen pregnancies
  • 71 percent of all adolescent substance abuse victims
  • 70 percent of all prison inmates
  • 90 percent of homeless youth

Rhetorically, Mann asked what happens when a father is not in a boy’s life. 

“He doesn’t read,” Mann offered. “His cognitive ability is damaged. His diet is poor. What happens when he becomes a man? He lives by learned behavior.”

Incomprehensible smog in the social atmosphere blankets an adversarial disposition between Black fathers and mothers, corrosive to the healthy development of Black children.

“Kids need both parents, and we must get out of a mentality of this pervasive her versus him mindset destroying the family,” says Mann.

Mann adds that children are being birthed irresponsibly.

“An irresponsible breed is hurting the child because the child is born out of an irresponsible process. They’re not necessarily made of love,” explained Mann. “They might be made of lust. The child might be a side-piece baby. It might be an alcohol baby. It could be a pill baby. It could be a syrup baby. It could be a crack baby. It could be a heroin baby. It could be a weed, cigarette or cigar baby. We must interrupt these processes by taking ourselves out of this foolishness and putting ourselves into the plow of the child—giving them the opportunity to be better.”

Mann’s impact on fatherhood is complemented by his work mentoring youth. In addition to serving as the president of GFO, Mann serves as founder and president of Encourage Me I’m Young (EMIY), a non-profit whose mission is the “restoration of families through seeding in the lives of boys with prevention and intervention.”

Launched in 2008, EMIY planned to mentor 25,000 males. Mann said he wanted to save some lives, save some boys from dying or going to jail.

“A lot of these boys don’t need you to be full-time . Some boys need the right conversation from loving fathers,” said Mann. “It takes 12 mentors to equal one father. I’ll take a deadbeat dad, train him and get that fathering on those kids that don’t know their fathers and watch both of them fly.”

Heading into year 16, the organization has impacted more than 22,000 Black boys, invested 1.2 million volunteer hours, and achieved this with no funded budget or facility to call their own.

The marriage of GFO and EMIY is a relationship rooted in elevating the family to be positioned to create a legacy. Mann is a product of legacy. On both sides of his family are Baptist pioneers.

“My daddy was a gospel pioneer signed by Motown. My grandfather was the first pastor on television. My grandfather’s-my mother’s father-and my father’s father built a church on 7 Mile and Greenfield,” said Mann.

He subscribes to the belief that legacy begins with strong families, rooted in two parents intentionally creating and nurturing their children in love.

“Having two parents is the model to change what plagues the culture. Kids need both parents, and it is on us to make sure that they have them,” said Mann.

Reginald Williams, the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized” writes on Black men and Holistic Health concerns. Please email or visit for more information.