As the door to Jimmy’s Barber and Style in Eastern Birmingham opens, three barbers are busy cutting and trimming hair. James Mason is there too. Except he’s not a customer or an employee. He’s a pastor giving his testimony as part of the Fatherhood Initiative, a program designed to empower fathers to help build strong families. Housing Authority Executive Director, Michael Lundy, says the barbershop talk helps men who are new to the initiative feel at ease.
Michael Lundy says the Housing Authority has to do their part to address the issues they have in front of them.
“I’m going to be working with the families here in Birmingham to help these fathers be better fathers. To help our children build strong character.” Says Lundy.
In addition to the barbershop talks, The Birmingham Initiative includes midnight basketball, a job fair, and a luncheon. Among the first to arrive at a fatherhood luncheon in their community are Hamidullah (Ha-me-dull-ah) Rahmaan (Rock-man) and his brother Hasan who coached sports in the Kingston community for years.
Hamidullah defines the word “father” as one who leads. He thinks more men should take more responsibility in leading their families. Hamidullah and Hasan are both fathers and coaches. They share their wisdom with their players just as they would their own children.
““..We brought them up like old folks taught us. Bad words, we don’t use that..” says Hamidullah.
Hasan says the players they coached fifty years ago still abide by what they learned as kids; discipline, respect, and sportsmanship. He says they remembered and respect what they taught them.
Birmingham Housing officials say between midnight basketball, barbershop talks, and luncheons, the program is growing. This year alone, several hundred men are participating with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for them and their communities.