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A heartfelt challenge to Black Fathers


Below is a mildly edited transcript of a speech given recently by Council member Henry Darby to Charleston County Council. It was impromptu, emotional, provocative and plain speaking. It is so relevant today with the issues of education and crime bedevilling the community. What is particularly relevant is that Mr. Darby is black and the Principal of North Charleston High School. (Editor)

This morning I had to talk to my teachers and my male students because a young black man who left my school early this year, was shot and killed. And I guess it is too bad I don’t have a national audience as I wish I could speak to the nation. 

The question is - When are black men, African American fathers, going to take their rightful place within the home? This is a basic question.

Because all this killing would cease, or most of it would, if fathers were within the home. Irrespective of how great black single parents are, when the Mother is 5ft 2in. and black Johnny is 6ft 4in. and is 18 years old, she cannot handle him. He is no longer a little calf but a young bull with horns.

But If there is a daddy within the home, the daddy is not going let him have his way. A father is not going to allow his 14, 15, 16 year-old girl, his daughter, to be on the corner at 11:00 or 12:00 at night.

And If we allow black fathers to take their rightful place within the home, these killings would stop. 

It is a shame when black men, black fathers, are afraid of their own children.

Mr. Pryor (fellow Council member) and I, not to be arrogant, when black boys and black young men were killing each other on the East Side, we went there, patrolled up to 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning, and resolved the issue. But the problem is now back because African American fathers don’t take care of their homes like they ought too. My generation’s fathers never allowed us teenagers to be on the streets at night. Our fathers’ generation had a rule – Be in the house before dark” or “Don’t let the light-pole light catch you outside.” As a result, we were not on the streets all time of night causing mischief.

I am not saying this just to be saying it. I am not saying it to get the blessings of or acceptance from conservative and liberal whites. That is not it! I am simply stating a fact.

The reality is until black men are within the home and take care of their children, this problem always is going to remain. And we have to stop blaming other people (whites) for all our problems. This is a problem black men can resolve if they rightfully places themselves back into the home.  

Because when this young man was killed, it was so sad and tragic for my students today. I literally broke down in front of my faculty.  And I am the principal. And I am supposed to remain strong. They supposed to have seen strength in me.  And I broke down like a child today because of this nonsense.

We have stopped them Mr Pryor . We stopped the killings wherever we patrolled. But we cannot live on the streets. What more can we do? We are blaming other people for what is happening within our community.  There is no way in the world we can stay up all night patrolling. We cannot do any more. I am of the opinion, these young men who are now 20, 25, 30, 40, 45 years old, if they have to take ownership (of the problem), if they have to patrol the areas, they need to do it. But if black fathers were within the home, the killings or much of it would cease.

I challenge all African American men, and all black men to take charge of your families, please! Nobody should feed your family but you.  You can’t depend on other people to save your family. So, we as black men need to grow up and take care of our children. 

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