Ford Motor Company Fund recognizes the vital role of Black fathers in their families and communities as well as the significant impact they’ve made in the world.
Whether we call them dad, daddy, papa, or pops, fathers are the foundation of our society. They are protectors and providers, and their presence is absolutely essential.
This month, we honor the fathers and father figures who’ve played a significant role in the social justice and civil rights movements.
Their unwavering dedication deserves recognition today, tomorrow, and always. Let’s take a look at some of our nation’s most powerful patriarchs:
Medgar Evers – a civil rights activist, Evers worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and end the segregation of public facilities. He served as a field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi in the 1950s. In 1963 at age 37, he was assassinated by a member of the White Citizens’ Council, an anti-integration hate group in Jackson, Miss.
Malcolm X – a civil rights icon, activist, and member of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X served as the public face of the organization for several years and advocated for Black empowerment and racial justice. He departed the Nation of Islam in 1964 after much controversy but continued his activism. In 1965, as he was preparing to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, he was assassinated. He remains one of the most prolific figures in African American history.
John Lewis – a civil rights leader and politician, Lewis is best known for his work as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and for leading the march disrupted by police violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965 – a landmark event that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” Lewis served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020. He became the first African American lawmaker to lie in state in the rotunda of the U.S. capitol.
Rev. C.T. Vivian – a minister, civil rights activist, and proponent of non-violent resistance, Vivian is known for his work alongside Martin Luther King Jr. He helped found the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference and helped organize the first sit-ins in Nashville in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. He was an active participant in Freedom Rides and served as the national director of affiliates for the Southern Chrisitan Leadership Conference. He died in 2020 at the age of 95.
Bayard Rustin – active in the labor movement, Rustin served as a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington (for Jobs and Freedom) and was a close advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin was actively involved in the Congress of Racial Equality and helped to create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A gay man, Rustin also was an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and advocated for AIDS education.
Jackie Robinson – an athlete and activist, Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball “color line” when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. After his retirement from baseball, Robinson joined the NAACP as chair of its Freedom Fund Drive and was later elected to its board of directors.
W.E.B. Du Bois – a sociologist, educator, and author, DuBois is known nationally and internationally for his activism and for being a founding member of the NAACP. Highly educated, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University, an HBCU, and became the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University. He authored numerous scholarly articles and books, including the ground-breaking “The Souls of Black Folks.”
Fred Shuttlesworth – a minister and activist, Rev. Shuttlesworth led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism in Birmingham, Ala., and beyond. In 1956, he established the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against segregated buses in Montgomery, he led ACMHR members to challenge the ruling. After moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, Rev. Shuttlesworth became the founding pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church in 1966. While in Cincinnati, he was active in the community where he established the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation.
Learn how Ford is celebrating fathers and saluting men in our community who go above and beyond to further the narrative regarding African American males. Follow and engage with us via our social media pages.