According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 24.7 million children (33%) live absent of their biological father. Out of that percentage, 57.6 percent of Black children and 31.2 percent of Hispanic children live without their biological fathers. Fatherlessness is the most significant social problem facing America today. Damarqio (DK) Williams is one of those that grew up fatherless, which is why he is breaking the cycle.
Mr. Williams, known as the Detroit Father, is an American father, author, international motivational speaker, and community ambassador. From fatherless to fatherhood to father in the hood, his mission is simple: build the future and restore the past. Williams currently resides on the east side of Detroit, Michigan with his lovely wife, La’Nyce and their beautiful daughter, Jenesis.
This movement touched my life, because I too, grew up without my biological father but I had mentors in the community that I looked up to. I applaud Mr. Williams for doing what he does for the community and I had to spotlight him for Purposely Awakened. Check out the interview below.
Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself and your upbringing?
I am a black male dedicated to helping black men know their purpose in life. I am a father, husband, corporate professional, and community leader who loves to inspire and be inspired by others.
My upbringing was quite unique as my mother had me at the early age of 15 years old, so as you could imagine, she was still figuring out life for herself and now had to figure it out for me as well. This impacted the relationship which my mom and I developed early on. I can remember many times going from place to place with her — school to one job to another job. I’d say that I grew up much faster and learned to be leader in life no matter what adversity you may face.
One of the first adversities that I faced was fatherlessness. Growing up without the presence and support of my biological father was the toughest thing that I have faced in my life. Without my father or any positive male role models around me, I felt both rejected and lost as a black man in a complex world. This year I finally realized how much this has impacted much of my life and deep-rooted fears that I carry with me now. I want to do everything possible to stop other men from this experience. I exist to build the future and restore the past for myself and my community.
Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations/mentors? How did they impact your life?
For sure my mother is one of my greatest inspirations on how to attack life when you face the most difficult circumstances. My mother raised four children with limited support of others and we each could attest that we never went without the basic essentials for life.
Most of the women in my family — grandmothers to aunts to cousins have all shown me the essence of a strong black women. From financial independence to nurturing generations of children, black women are the back-bone to the world as we know.
When did you realize your passion for social activism and advocacy?
From the early age of 10 years old, I realized the power of my voice and speaking up for those who probably could not speak for themselves. I used the black church and pulpit as my first platform for social activism and advocacy for those living in poverty or under-served communities. I was fortunate to be nominated as student board advisory board at Eastern Michigan University through the Upward Bound Program while in middle school which changed my view on servant leadership. As I advocated for many students who were dealing with major life challenges and did not have the capacity to advocate for themselves, I found the passion to use my voice to help others find theirs. The ability to mobilize and energize those around you to use their voice is the best way to be a social activist and advocate for progressive issues.
How did you get your start in the social advocacy field?
I am not sure when I got my “start” in the social advocacy field as I have always either supported those doing the work or play a role as a connector to ensure the most vulnerable individuals are always considered in major decision making processes.
What was your first job in the social advocacy field? Was the job everything you hoped it would be?
The first experience after the role of President on the EMU Upward Bound Student Advisory Board was the internship role at the EMU College of Health and Human Services where I served as a research assistant for Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell who was a rock-star professor and author. Her unique testimony as a poor student in higher education was quite interested and opened my eyes to the experiences that one will face based on their socioeconomic status. The job was more than I hoped for because it gave me deep passion for root-cause analysis and asset-framing solutions.
Your work on the community is not unnoticed you’re an advocacy/ambassador for Pampers, can you tell us about this movement?
I was fortunate to do important work around ending fatherlessness in the CIty of Detroit and received a call from an agent for subsidiary of P&G’s Pampers early this year. This particular initiative was launched by Pampers after a father shared a photo showing a public men’s restroom without a baby-changing table. This got international attention as the photo went viral on social media, and Pampers stepped up to install 5,000 baby-changing tables in public restrooms across the United States and Canada. As an advocate here in Detroit, I partnered with Pampers and NFL Dad, Marvin Jones Jr. of the Detroit Lions to install baby-changing stations at local recreation center in honor of Make A Difference Day. This whole initiative is testament that everyone can make a difference – simply a photo can make a social impact.
How did you get involved in the Pampers movement? What are some of the short term and long term goals of this initiative?
See above. Short-term is to connect with local community partners and find the public spaces that need these baby-changing station the most. Long-term goals for me is to partner with Detroit’s City COuncil on passing an ordinance that mandates all public restrooms have a baby-changing station for both gender-specific restrooms.
Not only are you just involved in the community and different initiatives you started your own organization Detroit Social Circle, what influenced you to create this organization?
As a project manager at Bedrock Detroit (largest full service real estate firm in Detroit) by day and community servant by night, I found there is a unique intersection between real estate development and community issues. This is what influenced me to create the Detroit Social Circle, a platform to use real estate to solve problems in neighborhoods across the city. Detroit Social Circle exists to connect people from every neighborhood to the nearest organization or social clubs to obtain the support or solution they need right in their neighborhood. The people of Detroit are so incredible and there are so many resources but it is not the easily to access these resources.
Can you tell us about the Detroit Social Circle and some of the short term and long term goals you have for the organization?
The short term goal is to register Detroit Social Circle as a low income and high impact (L3C) organization with the State of Michigan. This would allow us to raise capital to support future ventures. Long term is to develop a community cafe and co-working/event space on the east side of Detroit to support black male achievement.
Do you think what your organization is doing in Detroit is necessary to all other struggling rebuilding urban communities?
Yes, Detroit is changing its narrative as a city but this is not completely the case for the people who have lived in the city. Our work focuses on aiding the change in narrative and perceptions for Black men and boys along with the education, health, healing, and economic opportunities that we need in order to rebuild one strong Detroit. The role which Detroit Social Circle seeks to have in Detroit will inevitably ward against gentrification and poverty.
What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers and activist?
Always be authentic and intentional with the work that you do. There is no way you can help others if you do not help yourself. As an activist, I understand that people are the greatest asset to any problem. When we seek solutions, we must always include the people closest to the problem in the solution-process.
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