We’ve always heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Traditionally that meant your neighbors, family, and close friends. However, today we may live farther from our families. We may not have the same trust in our neighbors as generations before us once did. Our “village” today is reliant upon social media. We now belong to online communities where we can ask for tips or advice. That’s what Matt Prestbury did. He started a Facebook group for Black Fathers that now has over eighty thousand members! Yes, you read that right; 80,000 black fathers sharing stories, asking for help, or just posting pictures of them with their kids.
Matt Prestbury is a Baltimore, MD native. He is a husband, father of four, an educator, mentor, and organizer. Matt began his educator journey with the Headstart program and then transitioned to public schools in Baltimore. That’s when he realized how many children are without male guidance in their home life. It prompted him to create small fatherhood groups to try to boost father’s involvement at home. He also credits him being a single father to sons, Breon and Bryce as to why he wanted a fatherhood circle.
“It really encouraged me to create, not just the group, Black Fathers, but just to create anything I could to bring fathers together and be involved with one another, but also create a collective for our kids to see a multitude of fathers being active and involved with their kids.”
Matt explained his relationship with his father as being “one-sided,” since his parents divorced. They have a relationship, but he always has to be the one to reach out. He does not credit that as being the reason he fought so hard to keep his son’s during his own divorce. He did mention being an educator, seeing the children who needed two of everything, one for each parent’s house. And how dads would automatically be dismissed and everything would be told to the mother.
“I never wanted my kids in that situation and I never wanted to wake up or go to sleep and not have them around me!”
Matt started the Black Fathers Facebook group in 2008 because he felt like black men were not being adequately represented in the mainstream media. He saw the page as an opportunity for black men to show the world, “this is who we are; active, involved dads!” It took about five years for the group to really start to take off, but is now blown away at the success of it and how many men they’ve helped and showcased.
Due to the success of the Facebook group, Matt was accepted into a Facebook Community Leadership program. This gave him grant money and assistance for a project related to the Facebook group. It prompted Matt and his wife to start the Black Fathers Foundation as an extension of the Black Fathers group and to help to provide resources for individuals and families, as well as fund different black-led organizations.
As of recent, Matt, his wife, and his younger two children (Braylon and Laila) have relocated to Atlanta to grow the Foundation. They are committed to provide funding for other black-led organizations that are supporting black fathers and the black family dynamic. If you feel like you can benefit the foundation or have an idea to help black fathers, please reach out to Matt and the Foundation.
Of course, I had to ask Matt for his Dear Fathers letter.
The phone works two ways!
Matt, the Dear Fathers team appreciates all of your efforts to uplift Black Fathers! Salute!!
Check out all of the links for Matt’s organization. Make sure you check them out!