MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 1, 2012

Local named ‘Real Father, Real Man’

A Muskogee man recently honored as a “real father, real man,” said there’s something everyone must accept when they become a parent.

“I always like to say, once you have children, you’re grounded for the next 20 years,” said Cedric Johnson, retired Muskogee school teacher and now a substitute teacher.

Johnson was recently selected as one of the Tom Joyner Morning Show recipients of the “Real Fathers, Real Men” award.

The nationally syndicated “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” is hosted by Tom Joyner, the founder of REACH Media Inc., the Tom Joyner Foundation, and BlackAmericaWeb.com.

The show asks for nominations for the award that “recognizes the contributions of good men,” according to the website. Each Tuesday morning, the letters are read aloud and a cash prize is given to the winner.

A former foster child contacted the show and nominated Johnson by letter. The show called out of the blue one day and surprised him, he said.

“I’d never heard of this until they called me, and I just thought they were shucking and jiving,” Johnson said, and chuckled.

But he started receiving calls from Los Angeles, Seattle and other places that began to convince him, and finally a letter with a copy of the words his former foster-daughter wrote.

“My dad is the greatest. Although he’s not my birth dad, he did give me a chance as a foster child,” she wrote. “He and his wife and children welcomed me in. They were my first taste of a real family.”

Johnson’s daughter also wrote a letter to the show, but his foster daughter’s is the one the show chose, he said.

She went on in the letter to say “When they found cancer in my mom, my dad was right there. He canceled his NAACP convention and his Kappa 100 celebration to be by my mom’s side ... Now that’s the love of a father, a husband. That’s why he is a real father, real man.”

Johnson’s wife passed away in August the day after their 51st wedding anniversary, he said.

And though he’s honored by the recognition, Johnson gives more credit to his wife and both of their parents who helped raise their children as a close-knit, loving family.

“We always stayed involved with our kids and their activities,” Johnson said. “However, we had help from her grandmother and great-grandmother and my parents too.”

Softball, baseball and band — they attended it all and supported their children throughout, he said.

On Saturday mornings, the family would go to a restaurant for a special breakfast.

“That was until they figured out I could cook better than the restaurant,” Johnson said, and laughed.

Johnson said he’s proud of his children, who have all grown up to become educated professionals.

“Thanks to their mother,” he said.

Johnson said fathers today need to take note: There must be family standards.

“You set those standards and you live up to them,” Johnson said. “They need a father to provide discipline tempered with love. We have too many fathers that just aren’t there today, though most single moms are doing well considering they are doing it alone.”

Because Johnson missed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention last year, the Tom Joyner Morning Show has sent him the funds for hotel and airfare to attend this summer as his prize for being a “Real Father, Real Man.”

Johnson, who has more than 50 years involvement with the Muskogee branch of the NAACP, is delighted with the gifts, he said.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton @muskogeephoenix.com.

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