Sandusky NAACP honors stand-up single fathers

SANDUSKY It's not an easy subject to talk or write about, but it's there: The dearth of black fathers or black male role mode
MIKE FITZPATRICK
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

It's not an easy subject to talk or write about, but it's there: The dearth of black fathers or black male role models in this country, experts say, is crippling blacks.

Black men are far more likely to end up in prison, drop out of high school or end up on the short end of life than their white counterparts.

That's why the event Saturday at Castaway Bay was so important and heartwarming.

Two Sandusky fathers were honored for being all they can be for their children at the NAACP WIN Mother's Day Luncheon.

Marlon Grant and Vanuel Williams, two-single parent fathers, were recognized for filling the role of both mom and dad to their kids at the event inside a packed Castaway Bay ballroom.

Grant, 32, called the honor a "blessing from the Lord."

Williams, who works two jobs to raise his two kids, on his own, was thrilled by the award.

"It's astounding. It's a great feeling, a great feeling. I'm just really proud and honored. I've been working hard." Williams said. "I work at Bob Evans in the day and Olive Garden at night."

Williams is raising his 14-year-old son Vanuel Williams Jr., and 12-year-old daughter, Chant'e.

"They are both good kids, good kids," he said. "They go to church and school. I haven't had any problems."

Chant'e is active in dance and Vanuel Jr., is active in sports and a straight -A student, Williams said. Williams said he also raised two twins before he had Vanuel Jr.

Grant's been raising his 10-year-old daughter Marlaya, for 2 1/2 years.

"I see myself as an inspiration to fathers to let them know they can step up to the plate," and do the same, Grant said.

Grant, who owns and operates the clothing boutique Marlaya's Attire, and also teaches a spin class at a local gym, said there is no secret to his success, other than a strong belief in God.

"There's nothing hard about it," Grant said of raising his daughter on his own. "I was raised by a grandmother (Inez Grant) who raised four kids. If she can raise four kids, I can raise one."

Marlaya said the best thing about her father is that he "stays in church."

Jennifer Washington, who co-chaired Saturday's event, said Grant and Williams were the only two black men they could find in the Sandusky area who are raising their children on their own.

"These were the only two we could find and we know there have to me more out there," said Washington, who raised her kids on her own. She said that's why she had no problem honoring two fathers on the eve of Mother's Day.

"I'm a single parent mom and my kids always gave me Father's Day cards on Father's Day and said 'You are both.' That's what these guys are, they are both. They are moms and dads," Williams said.

"My hat goes off to them," chairwoman of the event Brenda Johnson said.