Charlotte TV personality Ryan Jor El founded Black Fathers Rock! in July 2017 to shine a light on fathers who may not get the recognition they deserve.
When former Charlotte’s WCNC evening anchor Fred Shropshire received Father of the Year award from the nonprofit, Black Fathers Rock! in 2018, he was honored. He’d faced many obstacles after a divorce, custody issues and co-parenting his three children with his former wife.
“That award was a confirmation and a validation for me,” Shropshire says. “It came at a time when I felt like I was walking an uphill journey.”
Shropshire was one of several Black fathers who received awards that day. The event gave people the chance to see the diversity in Black dads—from businessmen, doctors, and lawyers to nonprofit organizers and men who have been incarcerated.
“We all care about our kids,” he says. “Black Fathers Rock! does highlight how Black fathers are involved, are hands-on. Historically, perception has been about the absent dad, the deadbeat dad. The dad who is not engaged at all. And that’s simply not the truth.”
Charlotte TV personality Ryan Jor El founded Black Fathers Rock! in July 2017 and held the first awards show the following February. This year, the 6th Annual Black Fathers Rock! Awards Celebration took place June 10 at the IV Stones Events Center in Charlotte.
Jor El hosts the annual family-friendly event, which includes a cocktail reception, live music, a 360 photo booth and videos of each award-winning father interacting in his community. Awards were presented to dads in categories such as Activist of the Year, Dapper Dad of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, and Father of the Year.
For more North Carolina stories that matter to you, sign up for our FREE newsletter here.
Jor El started his career in the fashion industry. He graduated from UNC Charlotte with a business management degree in 2009. He’s currently in banking and hosts fashion shows and other special events in Charlotte. Jor El was a regular on WCCB News Rising for more than three years.
He’s the father of two children and stepfather to his wife’s children. Jor El’s featured in “Man Up,” a 40-minute documentary about how three Black fathers face the challenges of parenthood. He and his wife, Tracy Coleman, also host REALationship Talk, an online web show about love and marriage.
BFR is inspired by Black Girls Rock!, an empowerment group celebrating women and girls of color. Jor El saw a commercial about the organization and wanted something similar for fathers in the Charlotte area. He wrote down his ideas for an awards show and shared them with a fellow UNC Charlotte alum who helped Jor El plan the first show in 2018.
“Celebrating other Black men who are doing things in their community and in their home, is my way of changing the narrative,” he says. “Not all of us are absent, not all of us are in jail. Let’s showcase that.”
BFR’s awards bring to light the success stories of fathers who may not get the recognition they deserve. Kenneth Robinson, a father to seven children, was named the Comeback Father of the Year at the award ceremony last week.
Robinson started Freedom Fighting Missionaries, a nonprofit to connect those who have been incarcerated to resources and services. After he served 10 years in federal prison, Robinson struggled to land a job. The nonprofit is his way of making sure he can help others make the transition from prison to reintegration.
“The Comeback Father of the Year award is given to someone who has overcome a major life challenge and never let it stop them from being a father to their kids,” Jor El says. “Once they recovered, they returned to being the best father they can be.”
Subscribe to Cardinal & Pine’s newsletter for more stories like this one in order to stay connected on what’s happening in North Carolina.
The Biden administration on Thursday announced its latest proposal for widespread student loan cancellation that could provide relief to millions...
Robinson, who has a history of anti-LGBTQ remarks, revived the 2016 'bathroom bill' idea that sparked a public outcry and cost the state billions of...
It’s called “Texas Hold ‘Em” but NC is leaving a lasting impression on the superstar’s new country song. There’s good news all around the country...
Jason Dunkin lives out in the country on the same small plot of land he grew up on. When I met him at his house recently, the rain was beating down...