Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” 

As a Black man who is father to the seven children the Lord has blessed my bride Tearrah and I with, I always remember that I have not made this journey alone; many great men have shaped my journey. 

As Father’s Day approaches, I thought it appropriate to share about three Black fathers who shaped me.

Mr. Kenneth Bell – Lasting Inspiration 

A member of the church I was raised in and approximately 10 years my senior, in the late 1980s as media outlets regularly propagated portrayals of Black men as exclusively engaged in violence and other illegal activity, I was able to witness Kenneth Bell complete his education, marry his wife Gisela, purchase a home and become the father of two beautiful children. He took me to my first NFL game and was never too busy to find time to talk with me. His success provided lasting inspiration for me as proof that young Black men could establish strong families and lives. 

Bishop Matthew Nathaniel Richardson – The Passing of Wisdom

Born in 1925, Bishop Richardson is the grandfather I inherited when I married my bride, Tearrah. He gave his blessing to me to propose to his granddaughter, he walked her down the aisle to me, and for the next 16 years he prayed for me and mentored me as one of his own. To him I was never an “in-law”, only a “son.” He made such an indelible imprint on my life that in his final years before transitioning to glory, I sat by his bedside and recorded his wisdom gained throughout 95 years of life in a published book titled, “He Made A Way Out of No Way: The life, legacy and lessons of Bishop Matthew Nathaniel Richardson.”

Pastor Charles A. Brown – A Trustworthy Pattern

Born in Harlem, NY, in 1950, serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam era, honorably discharging at Travis Air Force Base, in Fairfield, CA, and marrying Bonnie P. Brown, my father, Charles A. Brown, remains my trustworthy pattern for manhood, Christian fidelity, and God-honoring integrity. So impactful was his example that during my college years I would often pass counsel given to me by him along to my male peers on campus. Some of them still give him an occasional call today to ask for insight as they guide their own families as husbands and fathers. 

To all of my fellow fathers, I want to wish each of you a very happy Father’s Day and remind you that as you are faithful as a man and a father, your impact spans well beyond your own home. Let’s continue to be the fathers our communities need, providing lasting inspiration, passing wisdom, and demonstrating a trustworthy pattern. You are shaping the next generation of men and women. 

Dr. Kneeland C. Brown is interim pastor at Tabernacle Bible Church of Wichita, KS.