We have an obligation to separate fact from fiction. There’s no disguising it; Black men and boys in Baltimore, sadly, represent a disproportionate amount of murder and shooting victims as well as those incarcerated. Despite the narratives that often pop up on social media, especially chastising Black fathers as absent, that tide has been turning for many years and Black fathers, according to a CDC report, are the most involved fathers with their children.
We must look at the reality of civil rights, the Vietnam war, the crack era in urban centers in America, followed by the war on drugs and mass incarceration as contributors to broken homes, especially in the Black community. Generation X and beyond are products of many of those parents and have reversed that pattern but the stigma remains.
T.J. Smith is a Baltimore native and career public servant. He began his career of service as a law enforcement officer in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. After being promoted through the ranks, he transitioned into advisory roles for chiefs and elected officials. Smith then became the civilian chief spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department and later he became the press secretary for the Baltimore County Executive. Smith was a 2020 mayoral candidate in Baltimore. After the election, he chaired the Famous Fund, a non-profit organization that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and was established to assist Baltimore restaurants during the Covid-19 pandemic closures and restrictions.
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Matt Prestbury is a native of Baltimore, MD. He attended Baltimore County and City Public schools and graduated from Baltimore City College High School in 1994. Mr. Prestbury is a husband and father of four children: one daughter and three sons. He has worked in the education field for over 20 years, most recently as a paraeducator in Fulton County, GA.
Mr. Prestbury has also worked in the field of fatherhood in various capacities over the past 20 years. He has organized meetups for fathers, which have included informational meetings as well as social gatherings with fathers and their children. Mr. Prestbury created the group Black Fathers on Facebook, which serves as a resource to over 75,000 fathers, yet-to-be fathers, and father-figures across the world. Along with his wife, Kelly, he created The Black Fathers Foundation in May of 2019.
Above all else, Matt Prestbury is a father who is not only passionate about raising his children, but also about helping other fathers do the same to the best of their abilities. He dedicates himself to showing the world the truths about fathers and fatherhood. He feels that by doing so he helps increase authentic visibility, which, in turn, combats widely held stereotypes and myths, and deepens the value that society places on fathers as a whole.
“Fatherhood is both a gift and a responsibility that we place upon ourselves when we create a life. When done with intention, sincerity, and love, it is neither a chore nor a burden, but rather a joy and a pleasure.”
Bobby Marvin Holmes, LMSW is a licensed social worker in the state of Maryland with a dual background in human services and multimedia. Holmes’s career spans across diverse areas of practice. He has nearly a decade of combined experience working within the public child welfare system, the behavioral health sector, the public school system, and community-based programs. As a community journalist and producer, he has covered topics such as juvenile justice reform and school safety for various platforms including Baltimore AFRO, Baltimore Times, WEAA, and WYPR.
Holmes currently serves as a mental health therapist for Parker Psychiatric Services and founder of Son of a Dream Services & Multimedia Resources, an agency committed to the healthy development and success of children, youth, and families. A staunch advocate, Holmes has participated in various grassroots initiatives and policy actions including addressing community violence and ensuring healthy school facilities. A proud husband and father, he lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife and children.