By J. K. Schmid, Baltimore AFRO Staff

Baltimore fathers were invited to a place of respite and reflection at Frederick Douglass High School, January 12.

An expo on trade, health, education and mentorship; Baltimore City School’s Fatherhood Summit brought father’s together with social services, teachers and businesses to celebrate and support Baltimore fathers.

In the foyer, men got massages, steam baths, and beard care.

Down the exposition hall, a legion of private and city services offered information on lead abatement, foster care, and employment services.

In room C125, fathers dug deep into “Anger, Stress, Resilience & Forgiveness” a conversation between attendees empaneled and moderated by Richard Rowe, BMHA and Darryl Green, CEO and President of Deep Forgiveness.

Rowe is a Baltimore Consultant with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Green’s Deep Forgiveness is on a mission “to analyze the impact of forgiveness, encourage conversation and the healing power thereof; we strive to restore wholeness and a spirit of reconciliation as we embody the true meaning of forgiveness,” it’s homepage says.

“The hope is to have this kind of exchange with you all about not only what happened to us, but what are the next steps, to move to the next level,” Rowe said. “I’m almost certain that if we have that honest conversation, that dialogue, we will be able to understand what the next steps are.”

“We don’t have relationships with our fathers, and we really don’t understand how to do that.”

“I think we don’t have enough confidence in ourselves.”

“I think we hate each other.”

“We’re jealous of one and other, I want what you have and since I don’t have it, I’m gonna take it from you.”

Four fathers said in turn.

“Hurt people hurt people,” is how Rowe summarized the experience of Black men and the experiences between Black sons and fathers.

“You talk about the relationship or the lack of relationship that you have with your own father,” Green said. “That pain, that hurt, that anger, that we never even talk to. I to call it ‘Father Starvation,’ it’s deep down in there.”

Rowe has been to other conversations about fathers. “They were talking about how fathers are no good, Black men are no good, et cetera, et cetera.”

Rowe, however, takes his lessons from John Wesley Blassingame’s “The Slave Community” and instruction from The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration of Montgomery, Alabama in order to break a centuries-cycle of violence and neglect.

“We have to acknowledge what has happened to us, we can’t get trapped there and we can’t stay there, but we have to acknowledge that,” Rowe said.

“Either you’re gonna be the same father your father was to you, or you’re gonna be different,” Green said.