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TV journalist promoting strong black father-daughter bonds

NEW YORK — Black TV journalist Ed Gordon has a close relationship with his teenage daughter, and he’s hoping other fathers will, too.

“Certainly there [are] issues with fathers being involved, and in particular within black America. That’s a problem and an issue and it’s larger than it should be,” he says. “But I don’t think it’s an anomaly where it is so surprising to see” a good relationship like his.

Gordon is launching “Daddy’s Promise: A Lifetime of Love,” a yearlong initiative celebrating the bonds between black fathers and daughters. The campaign includes community programs, educational materials and a Web site where fathers can download a pledge of love and upload father-daughter pictures.

In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on the lack of responsible black fathers and the impact on black men, says Gordon, who wrote an essay about his relationship with Taylor that ran in Essence magazine.

But black women suffer as well, he says. Studies show that women who have a good relationship with their dads are more self-confident and “follow a certain success path,” he says.

While Gordon lives in New York and Taylor in Detroit, they see each other every other week and sometimes talk three times a day.

“My dad actually cares,” says Taylor. “He wants to know how my day was. He wants to know what I did in school. It’s hard sometimes because we are in two different states, but I know he tries his best.”

Here are Gordon’s tips for building strong father-daughter bonds:

• Spend time together. Make the most of your time together, even if it’s for three weeks in the summer.

• Share your ups and downs with her, so she can learn from your mistakes.

• Find that fine line of letting her find her way even if she falls, and being there when she needs a shoulder.

• Be a parent first, a friend second. Fathers never want to disappoint their girls, but sometimes “no” is needed.

• Let her be a girl. It can be difficult to see things from the female perspective, but tell yourself, “That’s the way they see things.”

Ramsey Lewis to compose work on Lincoln

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Add a musical composition to all the tributes at next year’s 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

Ramsey Lewis has been commissioned to compose a new work inspired by Lincoln’s life. It’s being commissioned by the Ravinia Festival, a musical festival north of Chicago. Ravinia has already asked choreographer Bill T. Jones to create a dance theater work as part of the season-long celebration of Lincoln.

In announcing the jazz pianist’s new untitled work, Ravinia said it will present programs focusing on Lincoln’s life and musicians of his day.

The 73-year-old Lewis, Ravinia’s artistic director for jazz, said he was pleased that the Lincoln celebration will feature the works of two black people — Jones and himself.

“I think it’s extraordinary that in this year when an African American has a viable shot at the White House that Ravinia would bookend its Lincoln celebration with the works from the black perspective,” he said in a statement.

Lewis also said it is appropriate that Lincoln’s story should be told through the “purely American music” of jazz.

Arts panel to review revised design for King Memorial

WASHINGTON — The latest design revisions for the planned Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall are being reviewed by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

The panel had criticized the designs for the main statue of King as more resembling the head of a socialist state than a civil rights leader. The group working to build the memorial submitted revised plans to the arts commission for discussion last Thursday.

The King memorial foundation is seeking the commission’s approval as the final hurdle to construction. The work is expected to take up to two years. The arts panel helps to oversee designs for monuments and memorials in Washington.

The effort to build the memorial also inched closer its $100 million fundraising goal last Thursday as organizers hosted a “Dream Dinner” in King’s hometown of Atlanta.

(Associated Press)