Erica and Warryn Campbell On The Importance Of Celebrating Black Fathers
Courtesty of Erica and Warryn Campbell

Today we pay tribute to fatherhood with an intimate conversation with gospel singer Erica Campbell and her husband Warryn Campbell about the importance of celebrating Black dads in the same manner that we honor Black moms.

The couple have teamed up with Procter & Gamble’s “My Black Is Beautiful Initiative,” in partnership with Crest, Head & Shoulders and Braun, to celebrate Black men through the Grooming My Black Man For Greatness campaign. The couple are deeply passionate about family values and paying it forward with gratitude and appreciation for the ones we love. With fourteen years or marriage under their belts, the couple knows a thing or two about pumping each other up with love and how to celebrate it.

Let’s discuss!

ESSENCE: What have you learned from each other throughout your marriage?
ERICA CAMPBELL: What I’ve learned from him, whether it was an actual lesson he was trying to teach me or not, is his dedication. His passion for his work and his family are just beautiful to watch. We’ve had a long journey from dating and doing music to being married and having three kids. We’ve learned since we’ve had the three children, that you have to make time for family.

WARRYN CAMPBELL: I used to be jealous of my kids, because when my wife would come home, she’d walk right past me and go to the kids. I’d go, “Man. Okay, but I’m here too.” A lot of men do that. Of course I love my kids. Any good man loves his kids, but I’ve gained the appreciation that she had for who they were as individuals. She saw our children as people and not just as our kids that we take care of. It made me start to appreciate their character and individual personalities. I just started knowing my children. A lot of fathers, we don’t know our kids. We take care of our kids, but we don’t know them. Once I started digging in and knowing my children, and appreciating their characters and personalities, I’ll come and do the same thing to her.

ESSENCE What do you feel makes a good family man, and how does Warryn embody those qualities?
ERICA: What makes a good family man is a man that has a vision for his family and he understands the purpose of family and knows how to put it all together. I think that’s what’s really great about I’m Grooming My Black Man For Greatness, because you understand that there is value. Yes, we celebrate Black women a lot in media, but not enough of our black men get celebrated. That’s why we’re really happy to be a part of this campaign and this program, to kind of really ignite more fire under more people to pay attention to the black men in their home and celebrate them. They have a hard time out in this world that we live in. It’s still not easy for a Black man in the United States. The home should be this safe place where they are celebrated and loved. I think it makes them stronger and they’re more prepared to go out into the world and be great.
WARRYN: I’ll add to that because, for me, being a good family man goes far beyond my immediate family. It extends itself to my father and my grandfather. What I do as a family man reflects what they did as a family man. We don’t have that, and thus we don’t have enough generational transference of those values.

ESSENCE: Do you have any Father’s Day rituals that you do as a family?
ERICA: You know, the last few Father’s Day we had a dinner. My father passed around two years ago. We had a dinner in the backyard and we just celebrated the fathers. The kids got up and talked about what their daddies meant to them. That’s something that we’ve done. Since our lives are so busy sometimes we have to make it so that we plan a specific event for Father’s Day. You know like most people do for Mother’s Day, I think Father’s Day deserves that type of love and attention too.

ESSENCE: Do Black men feel they’re not celebrated enough?
WARRYN: I’ll go to the barbershop and that’s what we talk about – how unappreciated we are. How, when Mother’s Day comes around, it’s crazy. It’s a circus, you know? But Father’s Day, it’s a whisper. It’s just like, man, we’re not really appreciated like that.

ERICA: It’s even reflected when you go to the card section at the store. Mother’s Day has cards everywhere – it’s a long line. When it comes to Father’s Day, it’s a small section. It’s very meek. Not many people have gone there, it’s not … It’s unfortunate. I think it’s unfair that we expect them to be perfect. Now, we should put expectations on the men in our lives.