Deep hearty voices of an all-men's choir lifted the spirits of nearly 100 people gathered at St. John AME Church in West Baltimore yesterday to celebrate Father's Day and the endurance of African American men.
Some 30 fathers who attended the ceremony were given boutonnieres and honored by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke for commitment to their families, communities and God.
"Those who have counted us out are wrong," said the Rev. Maurice Wilson. "Those who call us an endangered species are wrong. There are many of us who have not abandoned our families -- who cook food for our kids and work day in and day out to support them."
He said that African Americans are wandering in a torturous wilderness, just as the Jews did after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. The efforts of "a few good men," he said, could save black neighborhoods and revitalize black churches.
"We don't need a whole big army," he said. "We need a few good men -- not certificated or educated men and not men with connections downtown. We need brothers who have faith in their God."
During the ceremony, Mayor Schmoke presented a Father's Day gift to his father, Murray Schmoke, a retired chemist.
"He has done much more than I ever thought he would," said the elder Mr. Schmoke about his son. "But then again, even when he was younger, he was always running for some kind of office. So I should have known he'd go into politics.
"I am very proud of him."