Within the last few weeks the world, specifically, Black America has experienced a wave of emotions in direct correlation to the continued fight against layers of oppression dating back centuries from voter suppression, to police brutality, and racial injustices. In the midst of it all, Father’s Day was a much-needed celebration honoring the importance of fatherhood and paternal bonds within our community.
Specifically, the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, ignited our rallying cry for change and our hearts to mourn for Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna. She now has to endure the plight of growing up without the physical presence of her father. As a call to action to not only shed light on the beauty and positivity of Black fatherhood but also showcase a bit of positivity in the city of Minneapolis, two creatives, Cornel Beard and Hammed Akindele joined forces to produce, “Daddy Changed the World.”
With hundreds of nominations received to participate, the photo project featured 25 Black fathers and their children. “This photo series is needed right now, especially here in Minneapolis. With so much negativity and division among our city, we felt by using our skills and resources, we could find a way to highlight some of the beauty and positivity. We believed focusing on Black fathers and their relationship with their kids would really be a breath of fresh air for our community,” Beard said.
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Following the free photo-shoot, the families were gifted with printed portraits to take home and add to their collection of memories. They were also asked to speak about the importance of what being a father personally means to each of them. Jeffrey Aguy, one of the chosen participants, had this to say.
“Being a father is the best experience of my life; it is both an honor and a privilege. It means a unique opportunity to guide the next generation, and show our son the radical love that the world may never show him. It means being vulnerable, honest, and yet resolute and strong. It also means partnering with my spouse to create an environment where we can live out the change we want to see.”
In a time of emotional distress, it’s refreshing to be reminded of the invaluable essence of Black fatherhood’s beautiful and tender moments through imagery. “We hope this photo series aids in changing our narrative. Our ancestry is filled with trauma and brokenness, but we’ve come so far as a people. I don’t believe there’s an adequate representation of Black fathers in the media, and this project was our way of putting Black fatherhood in the spotlight,” Beard emphasized.
To view more from the “Daddy Changed the World” photo project, take a look below and experience some Black joy, which, as previously mentioned, is needed now more than ever.
All photos courtesy of Cornel Beard, designer and Hammed Akindele photographer at FlyTouch Studio