It’s June! We made it! Father’s Day is here. Something special about this day, celebrating Dads and Fathers and father figures, men who have shaped us into the people we are today — it’s just special.
So In honor of Father’s Day and the men in our lives, let’s take a look at a few of our favorite Black television Dads.
Family Matters was a staple of T.G.I.F when I was growing up. I remember waiting all week and feeling like Friday couldn’t go fast enough as I anticipated what was in store from the latest episode of Family Matters. Of course, the star was Steve Urkel. He was the main reason we tuned in. But Carl Winslow was a force. Whether he was teaching Eddie a lesson about manhood, telling Laura how much he loved her, or threatening to kill Urkel, he was always present.
Uncle Phil! What can we say about Uncle Phil? Uncle Phil was huge. And I don’t mean that in terms of size. (He was huge in that way too.) I mean that in the way he impacted the show and what he meant for a young Will Smith, the star of The Fresh Prince. There was something special about the way he could be loud and boisterous, temper flaring, yet, there were incredible moments of tenderness between him and Aunt Viv, and each one of his family members. Often he was the brunt of jokes (what Dad isn’t, amirite?) but he never ceased to be a protector and provider for the family.
Listen, Fred Sanford will forever be that Dad. I will never forget the time when he told his son, “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.” or “Donna and me and the Dummy makes me three!” Fred Sanford had the lines that would get stuck in your head. He was iconic. That show was iconic. The old red pickup truck pulling into the driveway of their junk shop — classic. He was from the old school. You know the Dads with the tough exteriors, who say the most hurtful things but you know they love you so it doesn’t hurt as bad. That was Fred. I remember watching with my mom and laughing at the ridiculousness that would unfold as a result of Fred. Writing this is making me want to watch an episode right now!
Shout out to all the single Dads. Floyd Henderson was a single Dad with three children — two teenagers and a genius. I can’t remember what happened to their mom, but I do remember him having to navigate his children’s various issues. I didn’t understand when I was younger but looking back, there was something about that show that was poignant. I remember Floyd being a strong presence for the family and especially for T.J. Because when you have someone with extraordinary characteristics like T.J., protecting them feels even more important. Respect to Floyd Henderson and all that show represented.
David Palmer. President David Palmer. If integrity was a person, it would be him. Tall, booming voice, leader. President Palmer had it all. If you’ve seen the espionage thriller TV show, 24, you’ve watched him juggle decisions involving his family and national security. He had to make impossible decisions and you never felt that he enjoyed making those decisions. He hated having to ask people to carry out suicide missions and he was willing to sacrifice his reputation to try and protect his family. Things fell apart for him. He couldn’t hold all of it together, but he was always the David Palmer we expected him to be. He was always father and husband before anything. David Palmer. My president.
Honorable Mention: Dr. Huxtable
Now, this may be difficult for some but do me a favor and separate Dr Huxtable from Bill Cosby. Dr. Huxtable was everything a father dreams of being. He had money, he was funny, his wife was gorgeous, he could fix things around the house (or could he? LOL) — he was the model of a father. My favorite moments from The Cosby Show and Dr Huxtable were the conversations. The time when Denise brought home her vegan boyfriend was a classic. Unfortunately for Cliff Huxtable he has been tarnished by the actions of the man who portrayed him but, for me, he will always be a Dad I think of.
Well there they are! A few Black television Dads. I’m sure that isn’t all of them. Let me know in the comments who you would add to the list!