700-plus cities participated in the Million Father March 2012, the largest back-to-school initiative in United States’ history.
Chicago – Horrific violence in the United States raises its ugly head in some of the most unlikely places, including movie theaters, churches and schools. School and home should be the safest places for children, but in recent years, bullying, gang harassment, violent interpersonal conflicts and assault weapons have found their way to the school house door.
In the war against violence in America, there is a new army of more than one million American men, who are taking to the streets this year in one of the most important battles that America has ever fought—the battle against violence in schools. The Million Father March invited fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, significant male caregivers and family friends to take children to school on the first day of school in their district or on Million Father March Day, Tuesday, September 4, 2012.
The fathers and other men are janitors, lawyers, doctors, technicians, factory workers, bankers, bus drivers, construction workers, policemen and trash collectors. The 2012 Million Father March also included retired men, previously incarcerated men and unemployed men. This year, more than ever, we want to honor our military fathers and veterans who take their children to school on the first day and those who cannot because they are serving our country.
Women were also encouraged to take their children to school on Million Father March Day. Businesses were asked to give fathers and other men two hours off work the morning of the first day of school to take their children to school. Religious leaders (pastors, imams, priests, rabbis, ministers, bishops, elders) and faith-based institutions (churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples) were asked to adopt a neighborhood school and to partner with and support that school throughout the school year.
Last year, more than 1,000,000 men in 767 cities across America and around the world took children to school on the first day. “Education has become a matter of national security. If we cannot protect children in our schools, what good is it to protect our national borders?” says Phillip Jackson, Executive Director of The Black Star Project, U.S.A.
Research shows that children whose fathers take an active role in their social and educational lives are less prone to engage in violence. They also earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. A good father is part of a good parent team and is critical to creating a strong family structure. Strong family structures produce children who are more academically proficient, socially developed and self-assured. Such children become adults who are valuable assets to their communities.
This year, we asked fathers and other men to volunteer 10 hours of service to their children’s school for a total of 10 million hours of service by the end of the 2012-2013 school year. We also asked fathers and other men to pledge to support children throughout the year. The pledge calls for and outlines a year-long commitment to their children and to the schools they attend. The pledge included participating in school activities for the benefit of the children, families and communities.
Many schools planned coffee, fruit and snack receptions for fathers who took their children to school on the first day. Some schools in America will begin the fall term with faith-based leaders and faith organizations praying around the school for a safe and successful school year for all students and staff. And finally, at every high school in America, alumni were asked to return to their alma mater on the first school day to welcome students back to their campus and to encourage them to have a successful and productive school year. These alumni were also asked to sign up as volunteers to help create and maintain better schools.