Anthony Ware and his high-school sweetheart parted ways years ago. But the 44-year-old St. Paul man swore he was not going to make the same mistake far too many men make when a kid comes along before the breakup.

So Ware, a nonresident joint-custody father, was there for the occasional diaper changing. He was there for the knee scrapes, band concerts and coaching Tony Ware Jr. in baseball and basketball teams. He made sure to be there when his son and only child graduated from high school and, last year, from Concordia College.

“I’ve learned so much from him,” said Tony Jr., 25, an exercise technician at the Courage Center facility in Golden Valley. “I don’t know where I would be without my dad. I have cousins who never met their fathers, and I know the effect such an absence has had in their lives.”

The absentee or imprisoned black father may be an entrenched perception and image in popular culture steeped in troubling and sad statistics. But there are also many Tony Wares out there we seldom see portrayed on TV or in movies. That’s why some people believe such men need to be recognized.

“We need to celebrate black fathers to stabilize our families,” said T. Mychael Rambo, an Emmy-winning actor, singer and arts teacher who makes St. Paul his home. “We need to acknowledge the seldom-heard voices of African-American men who are engaged in the fathering experience.

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