For Father’s Day, a true male role model

During the month of June, we celebrate Father’s Day to honor the male heroes in our lives. It is also a time to acknowledge those overlooked men who make the commitment to being role models and are dedicated to bring about positives within our African American communities. This month we turn our attention to an unsung hero amongst us, Ulysses Zackery.

Ulysses Zachery with his family before the loss of his wife Victoria; son U. Elijah Zachery IV is now 15 and daughter Kiarra Zachery now 23
Ulysses Zachery with his family before the loss of his wife Victoria; son U. Elijah Zachery IV is now 15 and daughter Kiarra Zachery now 23

Ulysses Zachery is a man to be celebrated because he was undeterred in his pursuit to fulfill his dream of acting. He has done work as advertisement voice-over for BET Radio spots, Sam Goody, and Health Partners. He is an actor and was featured in the HBO mini- series Lauren Avenue. Ulysses’ is the behind-the scenes-voice you hear in the Wolf Pack Ticket marketing advertisements for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ulysses is currently a manager with Delta Airline and admits his road to success was not an easy one; it required a little perseverance and a lot of faith in God. Born and raised in Minneapolis, at age six and influenced by television, Ulysses saw himself being a Red Foxx, Gary Coleman, J.J. Walker, or being on The Jefferson’s.

Ulysses attended North High and participated in the school’s Inside North lunchtime broadcasting program. The program is still broadcast today on KBEM-FM, a public radio station owned by Minneapolis Public Schools.

He was supported by his mother, Bennie Lee Zachery, who always told him that he could be whatever he wanted to be. Both parents supported his acting dreams and placed him with a talent agency.

His first job was working with Dayton’s, now Macy’s Department Store. In one catalog ad, Ulysses is posed playing touch football with former Vikings Ahmad Rashad and Tommy Kramer. Ulysses said, “It was the first time that I knew that acting was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

After the unfortunate and untimely death of his wife, Ulysses’ faith was truly tested. Stepping into the role of single parent to a six-year-old and a teenager proved to be rather difficult for Ulysses. He had to find time to do the things that he knew best, and it wasn’t doing voiceovers or acting. It was focusing on being the perfect father.

He knew acting and voice work was a lot to cope with, so he stopped to focus on his children. At 34 years old with a house and kids in private school, a single man holding up the family sounded good but was frustrating. He never knew what it was like to get back in the mainstream of parenting two children alone. For Ulysses it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

Despite dealing with his personal adversities and then enduring career challenges like the merger of Northwest and Delta Air Lines, Ulysses still loves his role as a performance leader for the Minneapolis Hub. When the merger happened, he had an opportunity to transfer to Atlanta’s headquarters, but as a single parent he wanted stability for his children.

He was aware of the opportunity in the Twin Cities and chose a leadership position. As a manager he wanted to lead by example. Ulysses believes that in order to eliminate threats and have employees succeed, management should assist and take time to explain the “whys and why nots”.

He prides himself in what he does in his leadership role. As a role model and leader, his message to African American males is to not think they have to do what society thinks they have to do. His one word to them is “perseverance.”

Ulysses feels that if only one person gets his message, then he’s successful. David Flowers, one of nearly 50 employees on the afternoon shift that Ulysses supervises, said, “Ulysses is the best performance leader that we have at this Minneapolis Hub. We feel that he knows us and listens to us and believes in us. He truly understands what the Brand of Delta (hospitality service to heart) really means.”

So many times before Father’s Day you hear the questions: Where are the strong Black men? Where did they go and why? Well, here is a man who sacrificed to be what he wanted to be.

By being a leader but giving up what he loved in order to do what he needed to do to raise a family, by persevering through all difficulties and struggles that he had to endure to be the man he needed to be, Ulysses Zachery is truly an unsung hero among us.

 

Ken Foxworth welcomes reader responses to kennethfoxworth568@msn.com.