Friday program to focus on importance of Vicksburg’s fathers

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The importance of a father’s influence on their children and the community will be highlighted Friday at a Pre-Father’s Day Summit from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kings Empowerment Center, 224 R.L. Chase Circle.

The event is sponsored by the city of Vicksburg and Champions for Health, the city’s COVID-19 literacy program. The program will be presented by Dr. Fairest Hill, a minister and motivational speaker.

Felicia Kent, Champions director, said the event arose from a need in the community following the recent incidents of shootings in the U.S., particularly involving young Black men.

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“We decided to collaborate with the churches to be able to come together in the city of Vicksburg to raise the awareness of the need for mentoring in our community and the need to provide resources in the community to provide resources to strengthen their capacity to conduct mentoring and family and youth services in the city,” she said.

With June being Men’s Health Month, Kent said, it gives the Champions program an opportunity to increase awareness and stress the importance of men’s health screening and health care services in the community.

“We want to bridge the gap in the community with resources for men and youth,” she said.

Hill said the program is based on his book and his song, “Daddy Talk,” a mentorship book on fatherhood, manhood and parenting.

His goal during the program, he said, is to mentor 100 men in the city.

“There’s so many families without a father in the home,” Hill said. “Seventy percent of African-American and Hispanic (households) have no father in the home. Every Father’s Day I do ‘Daddy Talk;’ the last scripture in the Book of Malachi of Old Testament — that’s the scripture where God says, ‘I will return the hearts of the father to the children.’

“To wrap everything up in the Champions program we now need the voice of fathers,” Hill added. “We need fathers to come back to our communities, especially with what happened in the recent shootings in Texas.”

The goal of his message, Hill said, “Is really about bringing people together, and I’m hoping because it’s the Father’s Day weekend, we can celebrate some good fathers.”

He said his program involves “music, motivation and a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation.”

Friday’s program, he said, will address what it means to be a man; the role of the man; their responsibility and how an individual goes from being a man to being a father.

“Mayor Flaggs, he’s like the father of the city,” Hill said. “The father is a protector, a father is a provider, a father is also a symbol of wisdom; we get that from our fathers.”

Concerning the Champions program, he said, “It’s important that fathers carry this message that their families are vaccinated, make sure they do their health check; all of this has to do with wrapping up the COVID-19 Champions. We want to wrap it with fathers coming back to the neighborhood, with the fathers coming back into the schools.

“I want to have a mentorship program for men because unfortunately, we have a lot of young boys who have not been taught how to be a man and part of being a man is being responsible,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to talk about — being responsible, being respectful, but more than that, being a provider and protector for their family.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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