NEW YORK -- This Father's Day is especially unique for the Black community. It falls on just the second nationally recognized Juneteenth holiday, a time where Black freedom, joy and strength of community are celebrated.
Two fathers from New York, Omari Maynard and Bruce McIntyre III, would like to mark the holiday by highlighting the power of community, especially for fathers who have lost their partners to the maternal health crisis in America. Watch their interview with On The Red Carpet in the video player above.
"This Father's Day is a very interesting Father's Day because this Father's Day falls on June 19, which is also the day of Juneteenth, where Black people in the United States were emancipated from slavery in 1865. The reason why I bring that up is because as a community, what we can do is get together ... and share our experiences. If we don't talk, if we don't communicate, then what ends up happening is that it's like it's never happened," Maynard said.
He continued, "The reason why I bring up Juneteenth is because it's the same thing. If nobody said anything, if nobody fought for their rights, if nobody fought for their freedoms, then we wouldn't live in the same world that we live in today. And I feel like honestly, it's the same thing when it comes to the maternal mortality crisis."
Maynard and McIntyre's heartfelt story is part of "Aftershock," an upcoming original documentary from Onyx Collective and ABC News Studios directed by Tonya Lewis Lee and Paula Eiselt. The film follows the lives of Maynard and McIntyre after the tragic deaths of their partners.
Maynard's partner, Shamony Gibson, passed away two weeks after giving birth by C-section in 2019. Maynard attributes her death to the negligence of health care providers that constantly ignored her symptoms. McIntyre's partner, Amber Rose Isaac, died during an emergency C-section in 2020. McIntyre and Isaac's family also attributed her death to medical negligence by health care providers.
In their grief, both men formed a lifelong bond by turning their pain into activism by galvanizing a community of organizers to address the injustice and inhumane treatment of Black, brown and Indigenous women face in maternal health care.
Both men are determined to use their collective voice to demand systemic change within our medical system and government through their organizations. Maynard created The ARIAH Foundation, which advocates for the advancement of reproductive innovation through artistry and healing. The mission of the organization is to bring families and communities together to form artistic, innovative ways to bring about change in the space of maternal health care while providing mental, physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to families affected by maternal and infant morbidity.
McIntyre, meanwhile, created saveARose Foundation, with the mission to combat and dismantle the systemic flaws within the medical system and redirect the course of birthing equity towards better birthing solutions by creating access to midwifery and doula care.
This Father's Day, the two men wanted to take this moment to share a message for fathers.
"As Black men, I want to see us uplifting our queens more, uplifting Black, brown and Indigenous women, letting them know that they're loved and they're heard. God forbid you're in a situation where you're unable to advocate for your partner," said McIntyre.
Maynard also emphasized the importance of storytelling in efforts to raise more awareness about maternal mortality.
"For fathers on Father's Day ... celebrate the day, love yourself, and understand that it's important to storytelling to communicate, because that's the only way that change can happen," said Maynard.
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