Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Community News Network

March 21, 2013

Jail dance lets fathers, daughters take a few steps together

(Continued)

RICHMOND, Va. —

When the class begins, the men fall silent.

"How many of you are fathers?" asks Brian Gullins, a coordinator with the Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative.

Nearly every hand goes up in the room.

"What are your top three emotions about your own father?," he asks.

A man stands up and says his name is Tony.

"Hey, Tony," the men say in thunderous unison.

"My emotion for my father is anger. He committed infidelity and left us behind. That's when me and my brother got into the streets, took up drugs. My brother got killed. I am here. Thanks for letting me share."

"Thanks for your share, Tony" they boom again in one voice.

Some of the other men stand up to speak.

"My dad was chaotic."

"My dad was an alcoholic."

"My dad beat on my mother."

And after a few more, Gullins poses another question:

"If we asked your child to talk about you, what would that say?" Gullins asks. Some of the men stare at the ground, others shake their heads and sigh.

"If it's painful, then own it, brothers," Gullins tells them.

Joey Atkins is a husky man with blond hair and tattooed arms who has been in and out of jail for drug dealing and weapons-related violations.

He's been trying to repair his life, he says, for his daughter Alexis. He's even taking a Virginia Commonwealth University English class that meets inside the jail and is studying poetry.

So he listens intensely when he hears a prose-poem delivered to the class by Richmond activist and hip-hop artist Joe'i Chancellor. Her father went to jail when she was 9. He didn't come home until she was 21, she tells them.

Text Only
Community News Network
Features
AP Video
Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Raw: Massive Fire Burns in North Dakota Town Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Upon completion and reopening of Third Street, should the City of Knoxville wait to start the next stage of the Streetscape and Infrastructure project until 2015?

Yes
No
     View Results