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President Franklin Takes Part in Obama’s National Dialogue on Fatherhood

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.


(June 22, 2009) -- Morehouse President Robert M. Franklin Jr. ’75 was one of 16 men from academia, sports, entertainment and politics to join President Barack Obama in honoring America’s fathers and sharing advice with young men in the Washington, D.C., area.

The group took part in President Obama’s June 19th kick off of a National Dialogue on Fatherhood and Personal Responsibility. Franklin joined fathers such as NBA superstar Dwayne Wade, U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, NFL star Antwan Randle El, Motorola CEO Greg Brown, Tony Award-winning actor BD Wong and legendary hip hop artist Darryl “DMC” McDaniels in visiting non-profit organizations that focus on building stronger families, particularly those where the father isn’t in the home.

“They embody the spirit of love and dedication and commitment that fatherhood is all about,” Obama said of the 16 men.

Franklin and Denis McDonough, a member of the White House staff, went to Covenant House, an agency dealing with homelessness and poverty among teenagers.

“Make a big deal out of little things,” Franklin told nearly 20 young fathers and guests, according to the agency’s web site. Celebrating small accomplishments builds children’s self-esteem and fosters within them a sense of purpose, he added.

Obama then convened a town hall meeting to discuss fatherhood and personal responsibility.

“If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up,” Obama said. “We need fathers to understand that their work doesn’t end with conception -- that what truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and invest in that child.”

Later, he hosted male high school students from the Washington, D.C., area for a barbecue on the White House lawn.

The White House is planning a series of regional town hall meetings across the country to continue the initiative.

“President Obama's acknowledgment that rearing smart and well-adjusted youth requires the combined efforts of fathers and mothers, community organizations, business, government, and institutions such as Morehouse is quite admirable,” Franklin said. “I commend his commitment to building stronger families and communities in which children can thrive, and Morehouse will continue its work to support those efforts.”

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