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I was blessed to be raised by two wonderful parents, Janet and Keith Smith. Though we didn’t always have much in terms of material wealth, I was never without what I needed, and I appreciate the love they offered and the values they instilled in me. But things were not always peaches and cream.

When my mother found out she was pregnant, my parents were unmarried and my dad was attending college two hours away from my mother’s home in Indianapolis. Needless to say, she was a bit apprehensive about the future. One day at church, a visiting pastor gave her some words of encouragement. He stopped her after the service to deliver a message. “Don’t worry, Keith is going to come back for her,” he said, leaving my mother wondering how he knew my father’s name and her unborn baby’s gender.

After I was born, my dad left school and moved back to Indy. For the first few years of my life, we lived in a small apartment in a part of town that was considered rough. He worked as a correctional officer at a juvenile correctional facility that was located in Plainfield, commuting an hour to work each day and saving up for a wedding over a period of two years. Though I was only 6 at the time and didn’t fully understand the significance behind what was happening, I appreciated getting to witness my parents trade vows. Wanting us to have a better place to live, Dad eventually purchased a home on the city’s east side, which is where I was raised.

Though my father is extraordinary, he isn’t the only father out there putting his family first. There are tons of Black men stepping up to the plate, raising families and setting great examples for their children. There are also amazing single fathers raising children on their own, and men stepping up as mentors for children who are not blood-related. To all the Black fathers out there, we see you and we know the negative stereotypes aren’t true. You are needed, loved and appreciated.


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