The Black Fatherhood Podcast with Dr. Alvin Thomas

The Black Fatherhood Podcast explores a range of topics central to Black fatherhood. The conversations bring together scholars and experts to examine the historical context, benefits, and current societal factors influencing Black fatherhood, offering key insights and actions to consider.

Dr. Thomas  is the founder and host of the series that aims to educate, validate and elevate the importance of Black fatherhood to strengthen individuals, families and communities.

The first two episodes debuted in June 2022 for Father’s Day and Juneteenth.

Listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple, or wherever you find your podcasts. You can also watch video highlights from the podcast discussions on YouTube.

Winner of the 2023 Black Podcasting Award for Best Family and Parenting Podcast

Winner of the 2023 Signal Gold Award and Listener’s Choice Award in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion category

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Season 3

Episode 1: Kwame Alexander on Fatherhood

Kwame Alexander, one of America’s most beloved writers, joins us to talk about Why Fathers Cry at Night – a collection of poems, recipes, and letters to his family about the beginnings of love, the ends of love, being a father, and a son.

Season 2

Episode 16: How a Street Kid Turned Foster Dad Found Acceptance and Truth

From his childhood on the streets in Uganda to his life as an adoptive father and foster father of over 30 children, our guest, Peter Mutabazi, has an extraordinary personal story that weaves together countries, continents, social strata, and family – at every possible level.

Episode 15: Black Santa

Fred Conley, a community icon in Madison, Wisconsin, saw the need for representation at Christmastime and went to work.  Shifting careers from a lifetime of experience as a police officer, Fred embraced his new role as a cherished holiday icon for Black children across the country.

Episode 14: Why You Need to Know About Birth Cost Recovery

We’ve long known that social policies disproportionally affect Black families. Dr. Tiffany Green, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-chair of The Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance of Dane County, joins us to talk about one social policy in particular, Birth Cost Recovery, and how it impacts Black fathers following the birth of their children.

Episode 13: The Black Working Class

The national mythos of a predominantly white working class leaves little room for black workers or any opportunity to glean lessons from their histories. Today we’re talking about the origins of the Black working class with Dr. Blair Kelley, a historian and scholar of the African American experience, and author of, “Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class.”

Episode 12: I am and I feel

George Floyd spoke, and no one listened. He cried, and no one responded. Black people are crying out and America is not listening and not responding, because it hears the noise and not the pain. Written at the height of racial unrest during the pandemic, this poem captures the emotional complexity throughout these traumatic experiences.

Episode 11: Raising Kids Through Poetry

Guests: F. Douglas Brown and Jamal Adams

Language is an art, and how we express it matters. Author and poet F. Douglas Brown and Loyola High School (LA) Principal Jamal Adams – each masters of language – share how they’re using their talent and skill to change the narrative of the boys they teach as they transition to becoming men.

Episode 10: The Adventure Gap

Guest: James Mills

Why don’t we think of Black people going swimming, surfing, fishing, birding, or camping? Why are there still spaces we assume Black people shouldn’t be? James Mills, outdoor journalist, guide, and National Geographic Explorer, joins us to talk about how Black Americans, in both perception and practice, fall into what he calls “The Adventure Gap”.

Episode 9: Getting Real with Felonious Munk

Guest: Felonious Munk

In addition to having appeared in numerous television shows and comedy clubs across the country, Felonious Munk is also a proud father whose greatest achievement might depend on whether or not he can get his young son to *just try* Ethiopian food. Comedian, social commentator, actor, producer – and dad – Felonious joins us to talk about the highs, lows, and everything in between when it comes to parenting.

Episode 8: “An Amerikan Family”: Two Families, One Cause.

Guests: Santi Elijah Holley and Pauly Jackson

The Shakur family – legends in American history – forever shaped the fight for Black liberation. Writer and journalist Santi Elijah Holley joins us to talk about his new book “An Amerikan Family: The Shakurs and the Nation They Created” – a sweeping and detailed account of family, history, culture, and the deeply rooted influence fathers – and father figures – have on their children.

In this episode, we also hear a brief update on Jacob Blake’s health from his brother Pauly Jackson. In the summer of 2020, Jacob was shot seven times in the back – in front of his kids – by a white officer in Kenosha WI, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The protests and national outrage that followed forever linked Jacob and his family to the Black Lives Matter movement, and made them instant – and prominent – figures in the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

Episode 7: How to Love Parents Who Weren’t There For You

Guest: Esau McCaulley

How do we continue in relationships with people who’ve hurt us – especially those closest to us? Esau McCaulley, theologian, professor and author of “How Far to the Promised Land: One Black Family’s Story of Hope and Survival in the American South” joins us to talk about family, religion, poverty, grace and forgiveness.

Episode 6: The 1910 Boxing Match that Changed America

Guest: Jamal James

Jack Johnson, boxing’s first ever African-American world heavyweight champion, broke color barriers and changed the sport forever. An acclaimed production of “The Royale”, a play based on the life of Jack Johnson, is on stage and today we’re speaking with Jamal James, the actor playing the title role.


Episode 5: Fathers and Daughters

Guest: David Miller

With society placeing so much emphasis on fathers and sons, the essential bond between fathers and daughters is often marginalized. David Miller, speaker and author of Dare to Be King, joins us to talk about the unique challenges Black fathers face in raising Black daughters, and how the challenges can be compounded by public policy.

Episode 4: The Black Man Can

Guest: Brandon Frame

The negative narrative surrounding Black men and boys needs to change. Guest Brandon Frame, Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of TheBlackManCan, Inc. (an award-winning nonprofit that amplifies the stories of what Black Men and Boys can do), and Senior Director of Social Emotional Learning at The Urban Assembly, joins us to talk about how he’s working to change the narrative through educating Black boys in lessons on everything from the simplest task – how to tie a tie – to the most pressing danger – how to interact with police.

Episode 3: People see the peak, but not the climb.

Guest: Aaron Perry

Aaron Perry, the first African American diabetic to complete the Ironman Triathlon, has dedicated his life to building and strengthening himself and his family. He’s a father, son, and a brother, and we’ll be speaking with him today about his work to build healthy relationships in the community and at home.

Episode 2: Making Parent Support Systems Black Father Friendly

Guest: Dr. Latrice Rollins

Supports and resources that focus on Black fathers are scarce, and fathers’ access to these supports for fathers is limited. Dr. Latrice Rollins, Assistant Professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine and Prevention Research Center, and the director of the National African American Child and Family Research Center, joins us to explain how any move towards father inclusive services must embrace two levels of involvement: “Father Awareness,” and “Father Friendliness.”

Episode 1: A Man of Many Fathers

Guest: Roy Wood, Jr.

Roy Wood, Jr. is a nationally acclaimed comedian and actor, and a regular correspondent and guest host on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. But his most important job is being a father. Roy joins us to talk about parenting his son in a media spotlight, growing up with the legacy of his own equally famous father, and how being your own person can begin a legacy for generations beyond yourself.

Season 1

Special feature: Behind the Scenes

In this emotional, loud, unstructured, fun, and stirring episode, Eric and I reflect on the process that lead to this superb project – The Black Fatherhood Podcast. We trace this back from a germ of thought to the current product and make connects to the larger workings of the Thomas Resilient Youth Lab (TRYl). We talk about some of our favorite moments on camera and behind the mic, the many behind-the-scenes bloopers, and the insightful experiences and conversations with have had with our inspirational guests. We end with some thoughts about how you can make best use of the podcast episodes, and share feedback we have received for listeners as far afield as Ashland, Wisconsin; Castries, Saint Lucia; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Slovenia; and Colombia.

Special feature: Meet The Director

Meet the brain and creative heart behind the Black Fatherhood podcast and find out what drives him, and how this project was born. Dr. Alvin Thomas is the director of the Thomas Resilient Youth Lab (TRYl). Eric Crawford turns the spotlight on the director to try to provide rich context to this labor of love and Dr. Thomas’ vocation of educating, validating and elevating Black fatherhood and Black families.

The Black Family

Guests: Dr. Lucian Yates III and Mr. Floyd Stokes

Is there a prototype for the Black family? Is it a necessary structure for today’s realities, and are what challenges assail the structure and efficacy of the Black family? In this provocative discussion, Dr. Lucian Yates III and Mr. Floyd Stokes join us to shed light on suburban living, subsidized parenting, and to dissect and examine these and other issues related to Black families.

Black Father: Past, Present, and Future

Guests: Dr. Cleopatra Caldwell and Dr. E. Hill De Loney

How has fatherhood changed in the minds of Black families? How are Black men thinking about fatherhood, and how are researchers and community activists thinking about this critical role? In this episode I speak to two women who have been at the forefront of Black fatherhood research and community engagement Dr. Cleopatra Caldwell and Dr. E. Hill De Loney. Together they talk about what first brought them to this work with Black families and with Black nonresident fathers. They explore the changes they have seen in fatherhood research and philosophy and share their wishes for the field.

“Without Black men harnessing their reproductive energies to focus on building one stable relationship with an intentional mother of their children I see Black fathers continuing unnecessary, burdensome challenges. However, if we remain adequate and focus on the connection between the health of their children and a stable intimate union Black men will be convinced to move the needle to healthier Black families.” (Dr. E. Hill De Loney)

Mental Health: Seeking/Accessing Help

Guests: Dr. Danielle Hairston-Green and Dr. Adrian Gale

Depression and mental heal problems undermines mothers’ ability to positively impact their children’s development. Though the research on the impact of fathers’ mental health on children’s well-being is still limited, the impact is similar to that of mothers. But, once you have noticed signs that you are struggling with some emotional and mental health challenges, where can you find help? How do you find help? Dr. Danielle Hairston-Green and Dr. Adrian Gale help us explore these and other questions within the contexts of the lives of Black men.

Black men are countering the myth that they must live with muted emotionality, that they must carry the weight of life and responsibility on their own. Black men are speaking up about their challenges – we need to listen.

Mental Health: Early Warning Signs

Guests: Dr. Adrian Gale, Eric Crawford, and Shannon Reed

What might some of the early warning signs of mental health struggle look like? Hear from Dr. Adrian Gale, PhD assistant professor in Social Work, Mr. Eric L. Crawford, therapist and counselling doctoral student, and Mr. Shannon Reed, a young entrepreneur from City of Milwaukee. We have gathered another powerhouse team of Black men, fathers, and professionals to talk about the experiences of mental health across their identity spaces.

Our institutions often lament that Black men are less likely to seek mental health support, but Black men’s requests for help are more likely to go unheard and unheeded because our helpers are not trained to appreciate and speak to the life experiences and vicissitudes of Black men’s lives.

What is Mental Health?

Guests: Eric Crawford, Daryl Davidson, and Dr. Britt Gayle

This is one of my most powerful conversations, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. With so many social, financial, political, and familial challenges facing Black fathers, the conversation on men’s mental health has to be normalized and elevated. Our esteemed guests for this conversation are family medicine practitioner Dr. Britt Gayle, MD., Men’s Health Manager for the City of Milwaukee’s Health Department, Mr. Darryl Davidson, and Mr Eric L Crawford, a therapist focused on the success and healthy existence of Black families. This group of Black men, fathers, well-trained professionals illuminate mental health and its applicability to the focus of the Black Fatherhood podcast – educating, validating, and elevating Black men.

One of the easiest ways to humanize Black fathers is to first see them as men, and people, outside of their essential familial roles. Black fathers have to be allowed their vulnerabilities, their challenges, their areas of growth, as much as we celebrate their strengths and importance.

Co-Parenting as Team Work

Guests: Dr. Shauna Cooper, Dr. Waldo Johnson, and Dr. Dwayne Curry

The family is a system, and if one part is not working well, then all the other parts become strained. Parenting is meant to be a team activity, still many carry the weight of the full team. Dr. Shauna Cooper, Dr. Waldo Johnson, and Mr. Dwayne Curry return to this podcast to extend our conversation on co-parenting as teamwork, especially involving Black fathers. Together, our guests address critical issues including repairing broken co-parenting relationships, the benefits to the child and the family, and how parents traverse conflictual issues in their parenting dynamic.

A respectful, and successful co-parenting relationship, whether for parents who live together or not, is critical to the health of the child. Beliefs matter – always assume that Black dads are interested and want to be involved.

Goals, Dreams, and Support

Guests: Kenneth Braswell and Dr. Qiana Cryer-Coupet

In this exciting conversation with Dr. Qiana Cryer-Coupet and Mr. Kenneth Braswell we explore how Black fathers nurture the goals and dreams of their children, but also how fathers’ own goals and dreams of fatherhood and purpose influence their roles. How would you answer these first two questions which we used to pique this conversation: “What were your first dreams as a parent when you first laid eyes on your baby? How did you imagine your relationship with your child would be?

Black men want to be the best fathers they can be. Black fathers are the most involved, most committed, but still the most stigmatized. We exist to Educate, Validate, and Elevate Black fathers.

Communication and Monitoring

Guests: Dr. Shauna Cooper, Derek Phillips, and Kevin Bremond

Join our conversation on communication and monitoring practices with Dr. Shauna Cooper, Mr. Derek Phillips, and Mr. Kevin Bremond. With so many challenges facing Black children, it would not be strange if Black fathers and parents, by extension, felt they need to keep close tabs on their children’s every move. But when does this become overwhelming and unhelpful for the child and the family system? We discuss what parental monitoring looks like and how Black fathers create trust with their children while also nurturing the child’s necessary independence – and more so, how do Black fathers do this in collaboration with the mother?

When Black fathers speak, communities change, families are strengthened, children blossom. Black fathers are reclaiming their voices and honing their messages to self, family, and community.

Masculinity, Music, Culture

Guests: Dr. Olajide Bamishingbin and Leotha Stanley

We talk to two curators of music, Dr. Olajide Bamishigbin (Jide) and Mr. Leotha Stanley. Jide represents the hip, new swagger of the hip-hop generation and is a walking iPod shuffle of rap and Black music. Mr. Stanely is a composer, a music maven, and a connoisseur who uses music to heal and create community. Together they engage the dicey but necessary conversation of the influence of music and art on Black Fathers, and Black culture by extension. They challenge us to reflect and encourage us to build and support families and Black men.

The prevail messages to Black men and boys deny them their tears, their fears, and define them only through a devaluing of their sisters and mothers. In this conversation, we challenge Black fathers to correct that messaging and contribute to healing themselves and their families.

Black Pride, Health, Future

Guests: Dr. Courtney Cogburn and Dr. Justin Harty

Dr. Courtney Cogburn and Dr. Justin Harty tackle the expansive discussion on what it means to be Black in America, and the specific implications for Black men and Black fathers. Exploring the impact of Black pride on physical and mental health, the speakers reflect on the historical and current significance of identity and connection to the culture for Black fathers, and how this influences their role in families and communities. The Black family system includes the Black child, the mother, and the father. Each adult in the system is critical to the future of the child and, by extension, the Black community.

Supporting Black fathers is an act of resistance rooted in the deep and storied history of Black peoples.

Provider & Protector Revisited

Guests: Dr. Maria Johnson and Dr. Ronald Mincy

In this episode, I speak to Dr. Maria Johnson and Dr. Ronald Mincy about the unspoken social contract men are born into, and by which we often measure fatherhood – to protect and provide. Together, these academics and experts provide an in-depth social, cultural, economic, and historical analysis of the protector and provider roles and how it applies to Black fathers. We also explore how the roles of protector and provider are evolving and how Black men are embracing and expanding how they sustain their families.

Black men have always been fathers, and remain the most involved group of fathers across many domains of childcare activities. Black fathers love their children. Black fathers support their families. Back fathers continue to work hard for their families and communities.

Man, Parent, Black-Intersecting Identities

Guests: Dr. Qiana Cryer-Coupet, Dwayne Curry, and Tony Porter

This episode features three individuals who are powerhouses in their areas. Their collective expertise represents that of parent, author, researcher, educator, academic, activist, public health leader, and poet. This conversation explores how the individual identities of man, parent, and Black, individually and intersectionally color Black men’s fatherhood experiences.

Black fathers are human beings first. Appreciating and supporting their humanity before applying any roles and identity expectations is key to realizing healthy fathers and healthy families.

The Meaning of Fatherhood

Guests: Leotha Stanley, Eric Crawford, Cornelius Perkins, and Dwayne McMillen

In this episode, I speak to four fathers who represent a large section of the lifespan and with varying but intersecting experiences that influence their fatherhood commitment. One father talks about being raised by a single dad, another talks about his life first as a stepfather and then a biological father, yet another talks about incarceration during the early years of his daughter’s life, and another reflects on how his young fatherhood changed his life – each reflects on how these experiences inform their commitment to their children and family.

Black fathers are involved. Black fathers are present. Black fatherhood is not the automatic negative stereotypes that have been perpetuated.


Season 1

Thank you to our sponsors:
School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Division of Extension

This podcast was edited by Noah Jones of NoJoCreative.com

Podcast artwork by Morgan Dezine

Season 2

Thank you to our sponsors:
School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Series Producer is Jill Ruby

Music composed and performed by Micaiah De Silv