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Arts & Culture

Fighting for Fatherhood

While working for Wake County, Derrick Byrd was sent on a mission to find parenting resources for men. Not only were the options limited, he noticed a resistance to developing programs specifically for fathers. This was the genesis of the North Carolina Fatherhood Conference.

Celebrating its 6th year, the conference gathers men for panels, discussions and workshops geared at bonding fathers with their children and families. Byrd joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the conference and the grant he received to foster responsible fathering.

Byrd is joined by night time personality Dion “Showtime” Chavis of K97.5 radio station. Chavis comes with his own story. His battles in child custody court inspired him to become an advocate for dads. At the conference, he hosts a discussion on parenting in the social media and hip-hop age.

The North Carolina Fatherhood Conference is being held in Durham on Saturday, June 16 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center. The topic is “Building the Future through the Lives of Our Children” and tickets are $50. Keynote speakers include LeVelle Moton the head basketball couch at North Carolina Central, Michael Bivens of New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe along with Dr. Sampson Davis of The Three Doctors fame.


Derrick Byrd on creating the NC Fatherhood Conference:The idea of a conference came up as a result of the work that I started to engage in when I worked at Wake County Human Services and we were looking at dads and how we could better involve dads in our programs and services.

photo of Dion Chavis in front of the K-97.5 banner
Credit courtesy of Dion Chavis
Dion "Showtime" Chavis is a radio personality for K-97.5. He shares the courtroom battle that caused him to fight for other fathers.

Dion “Showtime” Chavis on becoming an advocate for fathers: Similar to a lot of fathers out there, I was going in and out of court for custody and things of that nature just to fight the battle to see my daughter and to spend time with her. I felt like if I was going through it I knew there were thousands of other men out there who were going through the exact same situation. So just going through court and paying for lawyers, paying all these court fees just to be able to spend time with my daughter. I tell people all the time it’s easier to go to the courts and say: hey I want to relinquish all of my fatherhood rights. As opposed to going in saying: I want to be an active part in my child’s life.

Derrick Byrd on the bias against fathers in social service programs: One of the things we found in our task force is a lot of our institutions, particularly in our social services institutions, they’re very heavily staffed with women. So you have to look at what are those biases that women already have towards men and how they transfer their own experiences to that work. Secondly, historically institutions always cater to mothers.

Dion “Showtime” Chavis on using social media to connect with your children: Find a way to kind of build a bridge with your kid. What are they into? … That’s kind of what I talk about during my workshop at the conference. Like how can we as fathers meet the kids where they are? How can we find out what they’re into, what they’re involved in and just infuse our love for them into that.  … We started our own YouTube channel. We have a YouTube channel called The Glad Dad. I saw that she was interested in doing challenges [like the Cinnamon challenge] … I said: well I can do that! I decided it was something we would do together.



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