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The Legacy of Black Fatherhood Author Dana Ross shed’s light on the negative stereotypes that surround fatherhood for black men and how to reinforce positive images of them in our community. Dana Ross is a filmmaker / author and host of "Our Families, Our Communities" an internet radio talk show for Black communities. Ross is also the author/director of "Black Fatherhood: Reconnecting with Our Legacy" which is available in both book and documentary film formats. To view a trailer of her documentary or purchase the book, visit her website www.purequality.com or email:dross@purequality.com

by y Dana a Ross ome write and speak on the importance of embracing the historical contributions and legacies of our ancestors who were enslaved because of the significant role they played in shaping American society and culture. They emphasize the need of knowing where we come from in order to plant a stronger foot on the path to our future. However, few of us embrace the historical examples and legacies of family structure and life as set by our ancestors; in particular our male ancestors.

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Despite the images of enslaved Black men, depicted in history books as lazy, cowardice beings, they were loving, nurturing and protective fathers. There are several periodicals and resources written by enslaved men and women as well as a collection of voice recorded interviews with former slaves who serve as witnesses to the true make up of the enslaved family and their communities.

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WANTED MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER, 2011

More importantly they document the positive images set forth by Black fathers during that era. They were said to take great pride in their ability to care for their families and would sacrifice their lives for their children with the same compassion and love as enslaved women. Many would purchase their wives and children with money or in exchange for extra labor in order to keep their family members out of slave auctions. "Researchers acknowledge the business acumen of enslaved Black men. Their research shed light on the slave owners who acknowledged this as well. There are documented accounts of business transactions of enslaved men; how they brokered for land, bought their relatives freedom and made decisions which benefited their families' future. My great-great-great grandfather Frank Cooper was an astute enslaved businessman. Although he was responsible for driving his owner, he was also a Minister who later organized and founded five churches.

The founding of these five churches led to the Frank Cooper Missionary Baptist Association. My family's first church, McCanaan Missionary Baptist Church, was built in 1875 in Sardis, Georgia, Burke County. This area is known as "Cooper Hill" named after my family. Unfortunately the original church was destroyed by fire in the early 1890's and reconstructed in 1912. According to researchers, the church was more than likely burned down by klansmen. Today, this church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural design. He rebuilt the church on his property, over 340 acres, where he raised his twelve children and tended to his farm. My family still owns and farms on this land today. The land includes a family cemetery where several generations of my ancestors rest.

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lack men during this era were dehumanized, humiliated and oppressed; however it did not deter

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