Roland Martin is a nationally award winning journalist often sought after for his candor on political and culture issues. Off camera, he is Uncle Daddy RoRo to his nieces.
Although he is not a biological father of his own children, he assumes the role of a father to his six nieces to give them an example of a strong male figure. There is no replacement for a consistent male presence.
“It’s critically important to have a strong male figure in the life of a daughter and a son.”
Sons need examples of how to be a man and future fathers. Daughters need examples of who they will date. Indeed, examples can come from other sources outside the biological father – mentors, coaches, grandfathers and uncles.
Our culture tends to undervalue the fathers role. Often we hear black men praising their affection for mothers. The proverbial “I love you mom” is an often sound bite from athletes, and rightfully so. However, the consistent messaging raises the question – where are the black fathers?
“God put it into my spirit to affirm fathers. When I get on television, I purposely talk about my dad.”
In 2004, Martin joined the Chicago Defender. The job was a phenomenal opportunity. However, taking the opportunity was a difficult choice. The concern was leaving his two nieces with his wife and their mother in Dallas.
A couple years before joining the Chicago Defender, his sister and two nieces fled to Martin’s home from a physically abusive relationship.
With Martin leaving to Chicago, the girls will lose the sight of Martin and his wife’s relationship that was reversing previous perception of marriage. The children see how Martin and his wife interact with the hopes they draw from these experiences later in life.
“I felt it was important for my nieces to see on a consistent basis a real image of black love. I want them to see how a husband properly loves his wife, show affection and lovingly lay hands on her.”
For Martin, he has a great example of a father – his father. His father exemplified work ethic and character. Martin’s father wasn’t the big sports dad. They may occasionally toss the football. Rather his dad was a strong father that worked hard to protect his family.
“My Grandfather was also strong. So, I had the benefit of growing up with very strong male influences who understood leadership and understood the importance of leading their family.”
His father’s conviction and ability to not waver on his beliefs is a personality trait that Martin admired. One conviction his father did not waver on is education.
In the first semester of high school, Martin was in the band. He walked into the band as first chair. An awesome opportunity, but band practice kept Martin at school late. His father questioned the band instructor regarding the late nights, and the band instructor responded that late nights were a requirement.
“My dad said ‘First of all my son is not here for band. He is here for the school education.’ The conversation went from being about late to me having my uniform turned in tomorrow. I was like how did this escalate to me being out of the band. Education was important to my dad, and nothing got in the way of that,” says Martin.
In retrospect, Martin now has some of the same personality traits as his father. He is probably tougher than his dad with education. Similar to his dad he will not hesitate to pull his nieces out of extracurricular activities if they are not performing well in the classroom.
Along with his father and grandfather, the Bible played a pivotal role in shaping his approach toward fatherhood. There are countless examples of great fathers in the Bible. Joseph took Jesus to work with him. Nehemiah, a father and great leader, led the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
“Fatherhood is Biblical. The Bible clearly lays out how we are supposed to raise our sons and daughters.”