The theme of this year’s conference was “Daddy’s Girls: Exploring the psychological impact of a father and daughter relationship. Deirdre W. Sanderlin, director of the NSU Women’s Center, read a statement of occasion. New Journal and Guide publisher Brenda Andrews read a poem she wrote in honor of her late father Buddy called “Daddy.”
Project assistant Shanell McLamb led a special recognition of the 2012 “Man of Honor” award recipients. This year’s awardees were James Church, president of Freedom Automotive, Mervin D. Pitchford of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, NSU police chief Anthony H. Walker, Norfolk Sheriff Robert J. McCabe, Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim, and Dr. Christopher Washington, CFO of Virginia Kids Eat Free.
Dr. Carol Pretlow, NSU associate Professor of Political Science introduced the guest speaker. HUD deputy secretary Maurice Jones gave a thoughtful speech on how his 9-year old daughter has impacted his life and the core values he has attempted to teach her. Reporters from both the Virginian-Pilot and the New Journal and Guide, along with NSU journalism students – all hoping to gain a sharper perspective and keener insights into the journalism world from the minds of two of its most prominent African American publishers – watched and listened attentively as the former publisher of Hampton Roads’ largest daily and the publisher of Virginia’s oldest African American newspaper shared the same stage for the first time.
Jones said hard work in the tobacco fields during his youth inspired him to go college. He told the audience that he often plays basketball with his daughter, who frequently changes the distance of the goal whenever he scores a basket. Jones said that his daughter’s competitive tactics taught him that “the pursuit of excellence is constantly raising the bar.”
Jones also opined that reading with his daughter “is a way to show appreciation for the mind” and that he does the best he can to celebrate her intelligence. Jones further stated that he tries to pass faith and family history on to his daughter. “She needs to know that she is part of a larger story,” said Jones.
Jones spoke to the New Journal and Guide after his speech. He said, “My daughter’s relationship has given me as many blessings as I hope that it provides to others. I thank God. She is one of the most precious persons He has given me.”
Conference attendees went to various panel discussions following Jones’ speech. Ms. Andrews moderated one of the most insightful panel discussions of the conference- “Daddy’s Girls: Father/Daughter Panel. Some of the questions explored by the panelists included: What are the emotional consequences of homes with or without fathers? What does it mean to know a father’s protection? And how do we explain the disconnect between fathers and daughters?
The conference closed with Dr. Todd Davidson leading conference dads in reciting the Virginia Fatherhood Commitment Pledge.
For more information on the NSU women’s economic development center, please visit: www.nsu.edu/womenscenter/news.html.