An alumnus of Grambling State University, D’Anthony Smotherman, and his family were blessed to have been acknowledged as being among the elite as “Coolest Black Family in America.”
he Ebony.com original series takes an ongoing look at the beauty that can be found in African-American family life.
family member of Smotherman’s submitted his name in a drawing and wrote in a letter to be featured in Ebony. He was chosen among many others to be featured, Ebony got his contact information and scheduled an interview about his journey as a single African American father.
”Being a student at Grambling State University helped me become a responsible adult by me having to be on my own without my parents there to remind me of everything,” said Smotherman.
”(I had) to get up for classes early in the morning on my own, learning disciple to go to set track practices at 5:30 a.m., and in general decision making towards my future.”
motherman graduated from Grambling State University with his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering on May 20, 2001.
e was involved in different organizations while attending GSU, including the National Black Engineers Association, T Phi T (track team organization), and Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
lthough Smotherman was the first in his family to attend Grambling State, other members of his family attended Lincoln University, a historically Black university in Jefferson City, Mo.
he last time Smotherman has been to Grambling was in 2004, to enjoy the festivities and campus fun during Spring Fest. However, he said that he hopes to visit and support his alma mater again in the future.
ome of Smotherman’s many inspirations are his parents for leading him in the right direction, and Jessie Owens, an all-star track Olympian.
”I am pretty much inspired by anyone in the world trying to make a difference,” said Smotherman.
”It was an honor and pleasure to be featured in the Ebony segment as a single Black male raising a son,” said Smotherman. “Even though I know it is a lot of Black families out there and many single parents I was glad to be able to be recognized and share my experience.”
he definition of fatherhood to Smotherman is a male who is in his child’s life day in and day out. Not only supporting them financially, but supporting him or her mentally, physically and being their almighty role model.
”As I was growing up, my father came to all my school and sports events, he worked the night shift, and was often exhausted, but he still was there for me, he would even cancel his plans to make sure he showed as much support as possible,” said Smotherman.
”The sacrifices my father made for me rubbed off on me as a father, and makes me push harder to be the best father and role model that I can, and makes me proud to have the opportunity to see my son excel,” said the GSU alumnus.
he real meaning of the “Coolest Black Family in America” to Smotherman means a family that offers something different, a family that does things out of the ordinary, and a family that sticks together through it all.
Some things Smotherman hopes to teach his son to live by are manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift, his fraternity’s cardinal principles.
”Juggling the responsibility of being a teacher, coach and parent is not easy. What happens is of course I teach throughout the school day, I hold my track practices after school, then I pick my son up and I take him to his extracurricular activities. And then we go home and I help him with his homework, have free time, and then off to bed.
“In the midst of it all it does get tough, but I do have help from friends and family members and I am very thankful to and for them,” said the father of 8-year-old Kaylen Smotherman.
motherman doesn’t believe the struggles of single mothers differ from the struggles of single fathers; he admires single mothers for what they go through, and learns a lot from them by getting to experience the hardship first hand.
”My advice to students is to always challenge yourself, never settle for just anything, it’s always something you can gain more of.
“As for single parents, the biggest thing is to be patient, and strong-willed. It will be times where you want to give up, but you not only have to be strong-willed but you have to be strong-minded,” said Smotherman.