It's always good to see good black family television properly representing us. Before smartphones and social media, television was the most common pastime. Movies and tv shows that depicted black families that specifically showed black fathers or father-figures as the patriarch played a vital role in a lot of our development and self-confidence. Even J.Cole had to acknowledge Uncle Phil from the show Fresh Prince as the only father he had ever known. The best thing about cinema and television are the subplots; for example, Spike Lee's Jungle Fever was about international dating, but the sub-plot was about the dangerous effects and consequences of drugs use. To put it in context, most black family films and tv shows may be comical, but the sub-plot or sub-context is a vital family dynamic and love. In preparation for Father's Day, here's our list of the greatest black tv dads to ever do it.
10. Pop - House Party
Played by the late comedian Robin Harris, Pops was a no-nonsense blue-collar working single father that would love you and roast you at the same time. This man was so resilient in his pursuit to punish his son for going out on a school night after he forbade him due to getting in a fight (if you want to call it that) at school. He never caught him out, but once his son finally made it home, Pop delivered one of the most iconic ass whippings in cinema history. Of course, he whooped his son out of love.
9. Mr. Willie Jones - Friday
Played by comedian John Witherspoon, Mr. Jones was married and the father of one high school daughter and twenty-two-year-old stay at home son. We know his son is twenty-two because Mr. Jones lets us know he smelled his son’s sh*t for twenty-two years, which was justifiable enough for his son to bear the smell for 5 minutes. Remember when Ice Cube’s character was discussing who has ‘game’ and his mother said, “your father, has all the game,” and at that point, Mr. Jones enters the scene and delivers his legendary line, “Nobody go in the bathroom for about 35/45 minutes.” He helped his son grow up and become a man after he wanted to resort to gun violence to face his neighborhood bully, Deebo.
8. John ‘Pops’ Williams - The Wayans Brothers
Pops was that dude! Also played by comedian John Witherspoon, Pops was the father of two adult males, he was an entrepreneur, owning a diner restaurant in downtown New York. He had his own unique style, a style that was questionable and may have been a bit outdated, but he owned it. Pops was also tough love character that would also love and roast you at the same time, not to mention he had his two very grown sons still afraid of his belt. Eventually, his entrepreneurial spirit would rub off on his sons as Shawn would become the owner of a newsstand, and Marlon would pursue acting.
7. Fred G. Sandford – Sandford and Son
Fred Sandford was a straight OG. He was an entrepreneur; yep he was his own boss, that owned a junkyard ran by him and his adult son Lamont in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Sanford, played by the late comedian Redd Foxx didn’t take any slack from anyone, we’re talking black, white, male or female, anybody could get it. He was tough, but he had a soft spot for his son, but would still throw subtle jabs at him every episode. The lesson learned, again they didn’t have many material things but had love and respect for each other.
6. Joe Clark - Lean on Me
I already know what you’re about to say, “bUt hE’s nOt eVeN a fAThEr iN tHaT mOvIe.” Well, he was indeed a father figure. Played be the timeless Morgan Freeman, Joe Clark served as Principle at East High (sing: loyalty, loyaltyyyy) in Paterson, NJ and even better the movie is based on a true story. Joe was tasked to clean up Eastside High, and that’s just what the ‘Eff’ he did. Upon arrival, he lined up all the drug pushers, users truant and any other students that didn’t take their education and kicked their asses out of the school EXPEDITIOUSLY! That act was pure tough love and taught us that you couldn’t save everyone and especially those that didn’t want to save themselves. In the end, Crazy Joe turned the school around and earned the respect of the students, teachers, parents and community.
5. Furious Styles - Boyz N the Hood
Bruh, I’m shaking my head writing this, because Furious was one tough-ass daddy! Played by Lawrence Fishburn, there was a lesson in every scene he was in. At the beginning of the movie, he offered a young Dough Boy and Chris $5 to rake the leaves off his lawn. When the two refused and scoffed at the offer, Furious ordered his son Tre to do it for free and all by himself. He was full of wisdom and knew he needed to raise his son, as he and Tre’s mother lived separately. He taught us three rules: 1. Always look a person in the eyes (they respect you better). 2. Never be afraid to ask for anything (stealing isn’t necessary).
3. Never respect anybody who doesn’t respect you back. The most iconic scene was when his son wanted to avenge the death of his best friend. Furious thought he had gotten through to Tre, but he snuck out the house anyway. Furious meditated in one spot, rolling Chinese Baoding Balls in his palm, praying that his son would do the right thing. In the end, Tre would get out of the car and eventually come home.
4. James Evans - Good Times
James Evans has one of the most iconic receding hairlines of all times. The married father of three teenage kids living in the housing projects of Chicago. James Evans, played by actor John Amos, was a true patriarch. The show itself was fictional, but not about it was glamorous or too far fetched. The family struggled financially, but that never stopped James from taking care of his responsibility, his family. They never lacked in love, although James was a stern individual. He can give you a look, and you’ll know he doesn’t play. In one episode, his young son Michael had a very disrespectful friend over as company. James’ wife Florida kept trying to refrain him from going off on the kid, but to no avail, James lost it! He took his belt off and tore that kid’s ass up, and by the end, the boy was so polite. Everything was yes-sir, no-sir from that moment on.
3. Carl Winslow - Family Matters
Carl Winslow, aka “Big Guy” in our Steve Urkel voice was a police sergeant that would eventually work his way up to captain. Played by actor Reginald VelJohnson, Carl was the head of the Winslow household shared with his wife, three kids (which one would eventually never come downstairs) mother, sister-in-law and nephew. Yes, that was a big house located on the south side of Chicago. Carl always seemed to butt heads with his son Eddie, but that was mostly because he saw so much potential in him, his daughter (yes, daughter, singular because without explanation Judy disappeared) was a straight A student and captain of the cheerleading squad. Carl gets even more credit because he lowkey served as a surrogate father to Steve Urkel, their nerdy and clumsy next-door neighbor.
2. Cliff Huxtable - The Cosby Show
Heathcliff Huxtable was that guy! He was as successful as they come in terms of parenthood. Dr. Huxtable, was an HBCU grad, had a black college sweetheart who was also a lawyer. They had five kids and living in a dope and spacious brownstone in Brooklyn. Bill Cosby aside; the actor/comedian that plays Cosby was the funny yet structured dad to five brilliant but sometimes rebellious kids. The Cosby’s were bougie, but they were subtle about it. I mean, Cliff and his wife Claire made good money, but when you consider the cost of living in New York, plus five children to provide for, they still had to be creative in their budget. However, Cliff did rock $500 Coogie sweaters almost every episode. The things that Cliff and the Cosby show were big on were tradition whether it was attending Hillman College or lip singing for the elders. The Cosby's exude black excellence all around.
1. Uncle Phil - The Fresh Prince
First thing first rest in peace Uncle Phil, for real. Uncle Phil is the GOAT tv dad, point blank period! Played by the late James Avery, Uncle Phil was a man of great Stature both physically and metaphorically. He looked like he was about seven feet tall and had hella size on him, and looked like he could almost eat you if he wanted to. He had a mansion in Bel-Air and a butler named Jeffery aka the “God of Sneak Dissing.” We knew Uncle Phil was an activist in his earlier years and had an association with the Black Panther Party before he played the game the right way going to Princeton to earn his law degree and later becoming a judge. Uncle Phil was the father of three mostly spoiled and sheltered children and would then open his home to his nephew, Will from his wife’s side. Will was wild and a handful, but Uncle Phil was the one that would never cut him any slack. I used to think Uncle Phil was big and meanwhile, Will used to slack off most episodes. The truth is, his presence really shaped the lives of his kids but mostly Will's. Who knows what would’ve happened when if Will had stayed in West Philly?