A packed lineup of celebrities and influential pastors joined Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer for a special online Father’s Day event Sunday reflecting on the blessing and “power” of fathers amid a national outcry following the death of African American father George Floyd.
Ulmer, senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, hosted the event, titled “Daddy Changed the World: The Pain and Power of Fatherhood.”
The nearly 2-hour event featured remarks from celebrities like former boxing champion “Sugar” Ray Leonard, television personality Steve Harvey, actor Tyrese Gibson along with influential pastors such as Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes.
Ulmer explained that the theme of the event — in which speakers spoke about fatherhood and the ongoing calls to end racism and police reform — came from the words of Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna.
“She is famous because her dad is famous. She made a very powerful, what I believe, a very prophetic statement when asked why everyone was talking about her dad, George Floyd. She said, ‘Daddy changed the world,’” Ulmer said.
“We recognize that we serve an Abba. We serve a Daddy. We serve a Father. That Father in Heaven has the power to change this world. We are going to celebrate what God is doing in the Earth realm around the theme of the pain of fatherhood, the power of fatherhood.”
“We are going to see what God did when He blessed this world with fathers,” he added.
The 41-year-old Gibson, a singer-songwriter and actor who has starred in films such as the “Fast & Furious” series, was raised along with his three siblings by his mother after the departure of his father as a child.
“I think any one of us [fathers] who grew up in a household with no father, the painful commitment that we are making, we carry this in our conscience,” he said. “Growing up with an empty hole in our hearts and our heads because we never had a relationship with our fathers has made us do the best that we can to make sure that our kids know that we have a real relationship with them.”
“Sorry for rambling but when it comes to this topic, I am very passionate,” he added. “Just don’t be too hard on yourself. We all out here doing the best we can with all we have.”
Harvey, the host of “The Family Feud” television game show, said that being a father is one of the greatest joys of his life. He added that the two most important things that a father can provide for his child are “love” and “guidance,” not fame and fortune.
“A lot of times, there are a lot of good men out there who are denied the opportunity to be dads simply of because of finance or some ill feelings toward your mate that created the child,” Harvey said. “But we got to give these men a chance to get past that. Because you are stopping a great relationship between a father and a child. A boy needing a father is critical. A daughter needing a father is just as critical too because they learn about love and what real love looks like from a father.”
Harvey, 63, called for all fathers to be the best “dads” they can be.
“Anybody can be a father. It takes a special man to be a dad,” Harvey said. “I like those step-up fathers; not a stepfather, but a step-up father. Those men who have taken women and accepted women and their children as their own who provided education and leadership and protection and security for children who wouldn’t know what that was unless you were a step-up type dad. It’s those men who I hold a special place in my heart for also.”
Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life, said that the world “needs dads now more than ever before who can change the world.”
“To you guys who are dads, I want to say to you: the way your kids see God starts off by the way they see you. Jesus told us to pray: ‘Our Father who art in Heaven hallowed be thy name,’” Warren said. “I talked to many people who say that ‘If God is like my father, no thanks, God.’ … So, as a father, focus on being a close father, being a consistent father, being a caring father, being a competent father. These are the kind of characteristics of God, our Father. This Father’s Day, know that I am praying for you. We need dads who stand up, who speak up and change the world.”
Warren agreed with the words of Gianna Floyd in that her father has changed the world.
“I am more hopeful about the possibility of moving forward in civil rights, in the injustice by depleting and discouraging racism than I have ever seen in my lifetime,” Warren said.
Leonard, 64, who is often regarded by many as one of the greatest boxers of all time, said that he can no longer stay silent on the issue of race in the country.
“I try to be a better father. I really do. I try to do the best I can. But it is a different time now,” he said. “I just feel that with kids living a certain lifestyle. It’s challenging. What happened just recently with George Floyd, the taking of his life, it’s not acceptable. When I first heard about it and saw it on TV, I couldn’t believe what was taking place. Normally, I am not a guy who is very aggressive. I get mad but I control that. Being mad is one thing. But being able to control is a whole other subject.”
“I didn’t want to be silent. I didn’t want to be quiet,” he continued. “I wanted to speak up to tell people how I feel. When George’s little girl said, ‘My daddy changed the world,’ he’s done more than that. He’s made everybody come alive, wake up. This is what is happening to our people, black people.”
Leonard stressed that the world can get better.
“We can change. Be a better father,” he said. “Our kids need us.”
Rapper LL Cool J issued a message for black fathers.
“I want to speak to you directly and let you know that you are not alone. Even though they have been trying to beat us down and they have been trying to make us think less of ourselves, they have done everything they can or could to make us stop believing in who we are; it didn’t work,” he said. “And it’s not going to work. We are strong people and we are strong men. Look how far we have come.”
“We have some racists out there and some of them in powerful positions and they are definitely affecting our way of life,” LL Cool J added. “But guess what? We can get through this. We are descendants of kings and queens. If our ancestors can make it out of slavery, we can make it out of this.”
Warren added that three things are “different about the protests that are going on right now that we haven’t seen since the 1960s.”
“First [is] the diversity of the protesters,” Warren said. “There may be 30 million white people out there marching along with Asians and Latinos and Middle Easterners along with our black brothers and sisters, saying, ‘We are not going to put up with brutality, with racism and with injustice anymore. I have never seen this in my lifetime.”
Warren stressed that the protests are ”global,” stretching from Hong Kong and Korea to Germany and Brazil. He argued that the Black Lives Matter push is not just an “American movement.”
“It is sustainable, we are now in our fourth week of protests and this gives me great, great hope,” Warren said.