HISTORY OF THE MILLION FATHER MARCH
The Million Father March has grown out of recognition of the power of male involvement in the education of Black students. A father who actively participates in the educational and social development life of a child is invaluable and irreplaceable. A 2004 summary study by The Parent Institute showed that at schools where teachers reported high levels of outreach to parents, reading scores grew at a rate 50 percent higher, and math tests scores 40 percent higher, than in schools where teachers reported low levels of outreach.
Statistics from the National Fatherhood Initiative support these findings and show that when fathers and men are regularly and substantially involved in the education and social development of children, children have higher standardized test scores, higher grade point averages, higher attendance rates and higher graduation rates from high school. Additionally, they have lower rates of suspension, expulsion, arrest, fewer incidents of violent behavior, and they are less likely to use drugs, alcohol or engage in premature sex.
While there is no magic bullet to solving all of the problems that we face in education, getting fathers involved is a large step in the right direction. When fathers speak with and listen to their children regularly and are active in their lives, they make up part of a good parent team and are critical to strong family structures. Strong family structures produce more centered, academically proficient and socially developed children who are a valuable asset to their communities. Better parents produce better communities, better schools and better students!
The Million Father March is an opportunity for Black men to show their commitment to the educational lives of their children on the first day of school and throughout the school year. On the first day of school each year since the March began in 2004, Black fathers, relatives, men, and significant male caregivers are asked to take their children to their first day of school across the country and around the world. Fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, significant male caregivers and friends of the family will participate in the event. While this event was created for Black men, men and women of all races, nationalities and faith backgrounds are also encouraged to take children to school on this first day. The Black Star Project also asks elementary and high schools; school districts and school boards; colleges and universities; pre-schools, nursery schools, and Headstarts; public, private, parochial and religious schools; urban, suburban and rural schools to participate in this event. Additionally, we recruit the support of local school councils, community organizations, parent associations, faith-based organizations, government agencies, elected officials, chambers of commerce and businesses should support and participate in the Million Father March.
The Black Star Project's Million Father March takes place from the homes of children to their schools with fathers and men accompanying their children and aims to post Black men near the front door at schools with sizable Black student populations to create an honor guard of strong, positive men supporting all children at that school. The Million Father March is the beginning of a year-long commitment of men to children educationally, socially, financially, emotionally and spiritually. For this reason, the Million Father March is a seminal event for communities across the world. While we coordinate the March and our Chicago office serves as its headquarters, the March takes place across the country, with city coordinators overseeing the event in each participating city.
In 2005, with the generous support of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the second annual Million Father March recruited the support of eighty-three cities nationwide, including one international city: Auckland, New Zealand. This participation of these nearly 100 cities led to an estimated participation of 200,000 men, women and children in the March to the first day of school to show their commitment to the education of our children. In addition, all 167 school districts in Connecticut were informed about the "Fathers Take Your Children to School Day" as an extension of the Million Father March and on September 29, 2005, many schools in Connecticut reported significant numbers of fathers and men who brought their children to school. In Chicago alone, between 25,000 and 35,000 fathers participated in the Million Father March 2005 and contributed to a record 92% first day attendance for Chicago Public Schools. Attention to this figure, which determines the amount of funding received by CPS from the federal government for the school year, is important in securing the funding and programming necessary for students most affected by the racial academic achievement gap. Since the Million Father March was established in 2004, the first day attendance has increased 3%, providing a total of nearly $100,000,000 in additional funding over two school years for the Chicago Public Schools.
Recently, we coordinated the Million Father March 2013 in 630 cities nationwide. The March included the participation of over 1 million men, women and children, including between 30,000 and 40,000 in Chicago alone.
Please register here to become an organizer and bring the Million Father March to your community. We will send you an organizing guide to ensure that you have a successful first day of school. Call 773-285-9600 for more information about the Million Father March and how you can become involved.