By Sam Youngman - 06/19/09 10:47 AM EDT
President Obama has enlisted some prominent African American fathers to join him in Fathers Day events Friday as part of his effort to reach out to the black community and reinforce his previous criticism of absent black fathers.
Obama has enlisted the help of famous athletes like the Miami Heat's DeWayne Wade, Washington Wizards Center Etan Thomas, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and former Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Bill Cowher to join him at events "designed to illuminate the importance of fatherhood and mentorship," according to the White House.
"They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men," Obama said last June, noting his own single-parent upbringing. "And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."
On Friday, two days before Fathers Day, Obama, some of the invited guests, and senior White House staff will pair off and visit different nonprofit organizations that focus on mentorship, the White House said.
Later in the afternoon, the president will hold a townhall-style meeting in the East Room of the White House "featuring five fathers from a diversity of backgrounds discussing their personal stories and commitment to fatherhood and personal responsibility."
The group will include a former substance abuser turned all-star father, a military father and the Washington Wizards' Thomas, described by the White House as a "celebrity father balancing work, family and community service."
Following that the president will conduct mentoring sessions with area youth on the South Lawn.