Third annual Father-Daughter Dance, a sweet celebration of Black fatherhood

Terry Austin and his daughter
Terry Austin and his daughter

African American women have, far beyond reasonable expectation, had to hold their communities together. And a sage saying goes, “A real woman can do it all by herself. A real man won’t let her.”

Accordingly, Positive Image’s Third Annual Father Daughter Dance is based on the profound observation that, contrary to an enduring stereotype as deadbeat baby makers, there are real Black men who see to it that Black women no longer need do it all. Those who are good can be overlooked because of the bad.

Positive Image founder-president Terry Austin acknowledges, “We need to do a lot in our community to improve [men’s] overall image. We have [many] great fathers in our community who are doing their jobs. We should highlight everything a good father — a great father — is doing for his family, for his community.”

As well, a population among us routinely goes unnoticed: the dad who is doing it all on his own — raising his little girl, doing what he can to guide her toward being a grown woman. Austin points out that single fathers don’t necessarily need to go it completely alone. That, for instance, “It’s important to network with other fathers. You can meet them at things like after-school activities.” And, of course, there’s the age-old student support program, your neighborhood PTA.

Austin states that all men with children — be they married to the mom, single, with or without primary custody — have to have as a priority “showing a strong example.” He adds that Positive Image’s mission cuts across economic lines, supporting dads of all incomes and circumstances.

“We want to engage everyone, fathers from all walks of life, whether he is a CEO of a company or [someone] just getting out of prison to try to get their life back.” Pursuant to which, the organization works with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to help men make the transition back to society.

The idea is to construct lines of communication and understanding between dad and daughter, or for that matter, son, regardless of circumstance. For example, there’s the opportunity to, regardless of social standing, network while bonding with daughters.

It’s also a welcome way to just get out of the house, away from the daily grind, and socialize. You don’t need deep pockets to drop in at their End of Summer BBQ and School Supply Drive. For that and more ways to connect up with and plug in at Positive Image, including the Fatherhood Summit and Father/Daughter Workshops, see the website (

In the meantime, right after Valentine’s Day, the annual Father-Daughter Dance offers another sweetheart celebration, special in a way that only dads and daughters truly appreciate. After all, you can look it up in psychology but needn’t bother: nothing so impacts a young girl as interacting with the first and probably most important man in her life.

“This event,” Austin said via press release, “creates a space where young girls can celebrate with their father or father figure and have [healthy] esteem reinforced.” Positive Image is supported, Terry Austin states, at the grass root. “We are community-funded through collaboration with businesses, churches and just the community.”

Partners include the Pillsbury United Oak Park Youth and Family Center to provide the essentials of parenting classes. When he started Positive Image in 2004, the fledgling organization allied with such agencies as the Stair Step Foundation, Emerge Incorporated (Pillsbury United Communities) and New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. This is an initiative, as it were, of the community for the community and by the community and the family.

Who had the idea to do the first annual Father-Daughter Dance? “The idea to start the Father-Daughter Dance was initiated by my daughter’s mom and other dads who had young daughters under the age of 10 who thought that would be a great idea,” says Austin. “The dance was intended to be a night out with music, dinner, and lots of photos with fathers who participated in Positive Image’s Annual Father Day Weekend Celebration.

“The first year, we had nearly 200 people who attended,” he continued. “We decided to make this event an annual event for all fathers, grandfathers, step-dads, and close relatives that play a positive role in a daughter’s life.”

How has it been received and how successful has it been over the past two years? “Our [second event] had nearly 400 participants at Double Tree Hotel ballroom. We were featured on Fox 4 news with Dawn Stevens, many churches and community organizations participated and sponsored tables for theirs clients and staff to attend.

“We anticipate 500 attendees for this year’s event. Social media and our marketing campaign targeting fathers and young daughters will make this a true success.”

Positive Image’s Third Annual Father Daughter Dance took place at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Saint Paul. Tickets sold out well in advance of the event.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.