A group of Mississippi men is on a mission to debunk the negative stereotypes surrounding Black fatherhood. In an effort to help their children overcome the anxiousness that comes with starting a new school year, the group of fathers stood outside of the Jackson-based Barack H. Obama Magnet Elementary school to greet students on their first day, CBS News reported.
The group—dubbed WATCH D.O.G. (Dads of Great Students) Dads—wanted to lead the effort as an avenue to not only show support for their children but to serve as a positive representation for Black fathers. They formed a tunnel outside of the school and greeted the students with positive words and high-fives. “The inspiration behind it was the want for our kids to know their dads believe in them and support them,” Parent Teacher Association President Rashad Williams said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “It has shown to have a huge impact on the first day jitters and new kids’ confidence.” For many of the fathers who participated, greeting the students was a full circle moment because the school’s principal was once their teacher.
The WATCH D.O.G. program—which has chapters throughout the country—was designed to increase community engagement and exemplify the importance of education. The organization was also created to address bullying within schools and provide students with positive male mentors. Participants host events that include “Dads and Kids Pizza Night” and “Donuts with Dad.” The program has been implemented at more than 6,450 schools across the country.
There have been several initiatives launched to dispel the negative myths of Black fathers. Inspired by his personal experiences with fatherhood, Matt Prestbury launched a Facebook group dubbed Black Fathers to connect and uplift Black dads.