Close to heart: Family, fatherhood and traditions

Acel is working on a book of his best and most popular columns. Here’s a glimpse of a chapter on some of the personal issues that are important to him: fatherhood, family, African American children, cultural traditions. He celebrated them all with a passion: 

Forming the ties that keep us connected

Acel was raised in a nuclear family with a loving and caring mother and a father who provided for him, his sister and his twin brother. His mother was a calm and reassuring woman who knew how to make a worry disappear, and who had a patience that likely grew from her talent for knitting and crocheting. She was the one who called or sent letters to Acel when he was in the Army.

His father was the one who helped make his twin brother Michael and him into the men they are today. Having a father was one of the most important things in his life. You simply need a father to help make a son into a man.

Acel as a young reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was a skilled electrician who worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard when Acel was a child. They developed a close relationship early on, and as an adult, Acel would sit with him and listen to his wonderful stories. Or they’d talk politics. Or anything else that was on his mind.

That’s what a relationship between parents and children is supposed to be. Through the years, though, that notion has been chipped away. Back in 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was vilified for attributing problems in the African American community to the breakdown of the family structure. The breakdown thwarted any social and economic progress among black people, according to his study.

Moynihan’s prediction has come true. Many black families are suffering from the weight of too few fathers who should be taking care of their children. Too many children are growing up with mothers who are trying to do it all alone. Many times, the boys get lost because they don’t have a strong male figure to look up to. Not to discount mothers, but children need both.

There’s a sense of hopelessness that pervades the communities where these children live. You can feel it when you walk through them. Those with middle-class aspirations have moved out. Those who served as extended families – related or not – no longer bother. The connections that kept children safe and disciplined have deteriorated.

Acel has worked to keep the chain linked in his own family, trying to be the father to his son and daughter that his father was to him. He has tried to develop a loving relationship with them, and he was there for them – from taking his son on trips with him and engaging him in projects to teaching his daughter how to ride a two-wheeler, all he chronicled in my columns.

That’s what fathers are for.


A Column Excerpt:

Of fathers and sons and family traditions

Dec. 27, 1984

A few days before Christmas, as we have done since he was old enough to walk, my son, Acel Moore Jr. and I went out and bought a tree. It has become a tradition that has withstood 16 years and even a divorce.

The tree that we selected, as always, was a Scotch pine. As usual we chose the tree after first stopping at several places to feel, smell and inspect. The one we bought this year met our standards. It was a beautiful six-footer that leaked the fragrance of pine. It had little brown cones protruding from dark green strands of soft pine needles that showed not even a trace of yellow.

The tree-buying expedition has always been one of the joys that make my Christmas. But a touch of sadness entered my mind for the first time this year; I am sure my son felt it as well.

I wondered whether this would be the last Christmas that we would get the tree together. After all, I thought, he is now 17, a senior in high school. My son is strong and tall and certainly is old enough to buy the tree and put it up by himself. Next year he probably will be away in college and maybe he won’t feel the need for us to buy a tree together. …



Read excerpts from other sections of the proposed book:

Issues brought home

People who dared




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