Color Him Father (Nov. 6)

by Debbie Norrell, Lifestyles Editor

I’ve been writing for the New Pittsburgh Courier for over 18 years and believe it or not there are some days I just don’t want to leave the house. Last Wednesday was one of those days. A good friend had asked that I attend a book signing at the August Wilson Center. I put it on my calendar but as it got closer to the date I decided I didn’t want to go. After speaking with another friend and finding out additional details, I decided to get my behind in gear and leave the house on a rainy evening. Before the actual signing there was a panel discussion moderated by Victoria Christopher Murray, author of “Sins of the Mother,” “Ex Files,” “The Deal, the Dance and The Devil” and so many more. I was introduced to this author many years ago and if you go to the back of “The Deal, the Dance, and The Devil,” you will find my endorsement. I was excited to see her again in person and she was the hook that got me out of the house.

But the evening was not about Murray. The panel included Vernard Alexander, Lovell Thornton and author Dr. Larry Drake II. According to the back cover, “Color Him Father” is about a brotherhood no man wants to join—the group of men who share the pain of losing a child. Whether that child is an infant, teenager, young or full-grown adult, grieving the loss of a child is a heartache that can break the strongest of men. Seven men who hold a membership in this fraternity of fatherhood came together with the help of Dr. Drake to share their sorrow of their suffering. In their own unique voices, these men tackle perspectives of being a Black father that are rarely discussed.

About midway through the discussion something hit me; my father was a member of this fraternity. Before I was born my parents lost a son. Jimmie Norrell was 2 years of age when he passed of pneumonia. I think I was about 9 when I found out, too young to understand grief or loss and what it looks like.

Watching these men share their stories brought back a flood of memories that surrounded the death of my late brother, and then I realized why I was there. Everything happens for a reason. I have not started the book but I know that this is going to be a must-read for anyone who has suffered the loss of a child or who knows someone who has lost a child.

Dr. Drake explained that men deal with things in a much different way than women. “Color Him Father” will encourage all fathers to renew their promises to their children, while motivating young Black men to become even more committed to the brotherhood of fatherhood. Dr. Drake is a Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Westinghouse High School (1972).

Correction: in the Semper Fidelis (10-16-19) story Joy Webb should have been Joy Simmons and M. Jean Simmons is M. Jeanne Dix.


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