Fatherhood Event Evolves into Life Lessons About Manhood

Fatherhood Event Evolves into Life Lessons About Manhood
September 27, 2017 Damario Solomon-Simmons

By Ginnie Graham | Tulsa World News Columnist

What started out as football academies in north Tulsa seven years ago has become an all-day, hands-on event about the meaning of being a man and father.

The MVP Foundation’s Manhood Summit will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday with sessions at the Cox Business Center and culminating at the BOK Center with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s preseason game against Memphis. The summit will feature workshops on everyday gestures like giving a proper handshake and tying a tie, to bigger issues like handling interactions with police officers.

The foundation was created by attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons with his wife, Mia Fleming, to support programs benefiting inner-city youth with an emphasis on African-American boys growing up in homes without male figures.

The first summit, themed on fatherhood, was held four years ago in a church. About 550 people packed into the building for that summit, and the event has expanded each year.

Solomon-Simmons said the annual summits started after he learned about the career plans of youths in north Tulsa neighborhoods.

“I was frustrated after hearing so many times, particularly from young black boys, that their goals were to go to the NFL or NBA. There is nothing wrong with that. But that’s a plan B, and you need a plan A,” Solomon-Simmons said.

“My wife pointed out that while I was saying that, we were holding football academies. We were focusing on athletics. My wife made a light bulb go off for me, and I knew we needed to shift the focus.”

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