Harlem, N.Y. – A panel of African-American celebrity fatherhood activists and poets highlighted an evening of care and concern for the state of Black fatherhood – The Fatherhood Panel. Thursday evening Dec. 6, 2012 was chilly but once the historical landmark Abyssinian Baptist Church was entered, you were warmly greeted and politely directed to the elevator, up one flight and two left turns to enter the glazed wood and gold accented pristine and rotund sanctuary.
Before the shining white altar steps panelists sat from left to right: Stic.man from the hip-hop group Dead Prez, ESPN sportscasterChris Broussard, former N.Y. Giant Superbowl hero David Tyree, former NBA power forward and author Etan Thomas, actor Chaz Lamar Shepherd, Last Poets laureate Abiodun Oyewole, Executive Director of the NBA Players Association Billy Hunter and former NBA all-star and present Assistant to the President for Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks, Allan Houston. The entire panel was bright.
The night began a half hour later than the announced start time of 7 p.m. with introductions by Dr. Boyce Watkins, who moderated the event. However, before the panel spoke, three dynamic poets filled the atmosphere with poignancy. The first poet, Messiah Ramkissoon, masterfully delivered a spoken word piece named the Order of Removal with catchy lines like “[prison] recidivism is the heartbeat on Wall Street”. He was followed by poet Julian Thomas, who in his poem had the memorable line “plan your work and work your plan”. The final poet was Versatile Poetry, who in his spoken word poem said to his child the images in the media and music may not be real regarding fatherhood but “The reality is me!”