Commitment: fatherhood in Black America

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University of Missouri Press, 1998 - Social Science - 113 pages
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Offering an eloquent combination of fifty beautiful black-and-white photographs and poignant quotations from the fathers and children portrayed, Commitment provides a powerful rendition of fatherhood in black America.

The father is often perceived as someone absent from the African American family, though the reasons for this perception vary. This book shows another side to that image, a positive one depicting black men who are supportive and nurturing parents. To reveal and celebrate this less often recognized parent, Carole Patterson has spent several years crossing the continent to interview and photograph responsible black fathers. Photographer Anthonoy Barboza has also contributed imagery. These portraits—young fathers, older fathers, a great-grandfather, fathers on different levels of the economic ladder—provide valuable insight into American culture. And because of their humanitarian scope, they deliver an important message to everyone, especially young people, about parenthood and the obligations and responsibilities attached to it.

In his introduction, Arvarh E. Strickland surveys the history of the African American family, beginning with the separation inherent in slavery. Then, Minion KC Morrison offers a more personal view of image making and the creation of identity. Understanding both the racial history and how a father's image plays a role in our lives enhances the viewer's experience of the photos in this collection, which are also part of an exhibition. Commitment is a moving testimonial to fathers and their families everywhere.

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Editors Acknowledgments ix
Gerald Russell 26
Tom Henry and the Responsive Fathers Program

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About the author (1998)

About the Contributors

Carole Patterson is a photographer whose work has been featured in more than forty solo exhibitions from coast to coast, including shows in Los Angeles, New York, and Mexico City. Her three-year touring exhibition Capturing the Spirit: Portraits of Contemporary Mexican Artists was organized and toured by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Anthony Barboza is a highly regarded New York photographer whose work has been featured in Songs of My People and Black Culture and Modernism. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Studio Museum of Harlem, New York; and the University of Ghana, Africa.

Arvarh Strickland, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the author or editor of several books, including Selling Black History for Carter G. Woodson: A Diary, 1930-1933, by Lorenzo J. Greene and History of the Chicago Urban League.

Minion KC Morrison is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has written three books and numerous articles on African and African American politics and civilization.

Clyde Ruffin is the founding director of the University of Missouri's award-winning Black Theatre Workshop and has worked professionally as a director, designer, and actor. He has won numerous awards as a teacher and served as Chair of the Department of Theatre at the University of Missouri from 1990 to 1995.

Marlene Perchinske is Director of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to her current position, she exhibited her art internationally and worked for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City for sixteen years.

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