Jesse Alex and Lamar Johnson, Jr.: The Visionaries Behind ‘Dear Fathers’

In the heart of America’s bustling cities, two visionaries, Jesse Alex and Lamar Johnson, Jr., embarked on a transformative journey, not just for themselves but for a community longing for representation and support. Founding “Dear Fathers,” they aimed to challenge and change the narrative around Black fatherhood, drawing from their personal experiences of growing up without their fathers. Their mission was to create a platform that not only facilitated conversations about the complexities of fatherhood but also celebrated the joys and triumphs of Black fathers everywhere.

Jesse, hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, and now residing in Dallas, Texas, and Lamar, living in the Bay Area with his wife & two daughters, shared a bond that went beyond friendship. It was a brotherhood forged in the absence of their fathers, a shared experience that became the bedrock of “Dear Fathers.” Jesse recalls, “Growing up in the inner city of St. Louis, Missouri, raised by a single mother, I never really saw what it looked like for a man to love a home. It started from a foundation of having conversations about who we wanted to be as Black men, as fathers.”

Launching the platform in 2019, they ventured into uncharted territory, driven by stories of their own and the countless untold stories of Black fathers across the nation. Lamar reflects on the genesis of their journey, “We launched our platform based off of stories that we would share with each other… It all equated back to not having fathers around. So, it was about changing that narrative for the next generation.”

“Dear Fathers” quickly evolved from a mere concept to a vibrant community, engaging Black fathers in profound discussions about identity, responsibility, and the societal challenges they face. The platform’s growth was organic, fueled by the genuine need for such a space in the Black community. Jesse and Lamar’s backgrounds in marketing and graphic design allowed them to craft a space that was not only visually appealing but also rich in content and meaning.

Their efforts extended beyond the digital realm. The pandemic, while challenging, provided a unique opportunity to build a virtual community focused on mental health, a topic often stigmatized in the Black community. “Stripe Mental,” a monthly mental health space for Black men, connected individuals with Black male therapists, fostering a supportive environment for open dialogue.

As the world began to open up, Jesse and Lamar took “Dear Fathers” to the physical world, organizing events in collaboration with NBA teams like the Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors. These events, blending culture and fatherhood, offered a new avenue for Black fathers to come together, share experiences, and learn from one another.

The “Dear Fathers” website serves as a vibrant hub of inspiration, education, and community, meticulously curated by Jesse Alex and Lamar Johnson, Jr. to celebrate and support Black fatherhood. It’s a digital sanctuary where the stories of Black fathers are brought to the forefront, covering a wide array of experiences from the joys and challenges of raising children to the personal growth that comes with fatherhood. The site features an impressive collection of narratives, including in-depth interviews, personal essays, and expert advice columns, all aimed at providing Black fathers with the resources, support, and visibility they often lack in mainstream media. Each story is a testament to the resilience, love, and dedication of Black fathers, offering readers a mix of motivational and practical content. From tales of overcoming adversity to features on the everyday moments of fatherhood, the “Dear Fathers” website stands as a beacon of empowerment, encouraging Black men to embrace their roles as fathers fully and to build a strong, supportive community that uplifts and affirms their journey.

The “Dear Fathers” podcast stands as a cornerstone of Jesse Alex and Lamar Johnson, Jr.’s mission, offering a unique platform where celebrity dads can share their fatherhood journeys, beyond the glare of their public personas. Launched with the intent to delve into the nuanced experiences of Black fatherhood, the podcast has hosted a range of guests, from entertainers like Pusha T to athletes, providing them with an opportunity to discuss who they are as fathers and men. This initiative not only humanizes these figures but also enriches the broader conversation about Black fatherhood, challenging stereotypes and highlighting the diverse realities of being a dad in today’s world. Jesse and Lamar’s approach to these conversations is deeply rooted in authenticity and vulnerability, making the “Dear Fathers” podcast a vital resource for anyone looking to understand the heart and soul of Black paternal experiences.

Looking to the future, Jesse and Lamar envision “Dear Fathers” as a comprehensive resource for Black fathers, focusing on mental, financial, intellectual, and physical health. Their nonprofit, Fearless Fathers, aims to expand their reach, providing more resources and support to Black fathers and, by extension, strengthening the community at large.

Jesse and Lamar’s journey with “Dear Fathers” is a testament to the power of vision, resilience, and community. In their words and actions, they embody the change they wish to see, offering hope and guidance to Black fathers navigating the complexities of parenthood. Their story is not just about overcoming personal challenges but about building a legacy that empowers generations of Black fathers to come.

You can follow Jesse and Lamar @meetjessealex @lamarjohnsonjr and visit the Dear Fathers website at https://dearfathers.com/

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