Barack Obama’s Father’s Day Message

June 15, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More

Speaking to the congregation at Apostolic Church of God  in Chicago, Barack Obama gave a speech critical of absent black fathers on Father’s Day. He urged the largely African American congregation:

to remember their filial responsibilities and be more engaged in raising their children. Obama reminded the congregation of his own experience growing up without a father, saying that if he could be anything in life, he would be a good father to his daughters.

Obama’s speech noted his concern with black fathers, many of whom “have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men.  And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”

Why are fathers important?  Here are a few of the points made by Obama, whose best attribute (in my opinion) is that he challenges us all to be better and doesn’t hide from the fact that this will require self-sacrifice:

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one . . .

I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother – how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle – that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock – that foundation – on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.

I say this knowing that I have been an imperfect father – knowing that I have made mistakes and will continue to make more; wishing that I could be home for my girls and my wife more than I am right now. I say this knowing all of these things because even as we are imperfect, even as we face difficult circumstances, there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers – whether we are black or white; rich or poor; from the South Side or the wealthiest suburb.

The first is setting an example of excellence for our children – because if we want to set high expectations for them, we’ve got to set high expectations for ourselves. It’s great if you have a job; it’s even better if you have a college degree. It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don’t just sit in the house and watch “SportsCenter” all weekend long. That’s why so many children are growing up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we’ve got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in awhile. That’s how we build that foundation.

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Category: Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    On the topic of reading, consider Mark Twain's quote: "Those who don't read have no advantage over those who can't."

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