Q & A with Robert Taylor: A Place Where Fathers Matter

Robert Taylor is the Program Manager of The New Life Program at the Metro Public Health Department, Nashville, TN . The New Life Program, a fatherhood initiative, is funded for three years by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Taylor earned his bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and his master’s degree in public administration/public policy from Bowie State University. Taylor is happily married to his lovely wife, Adjoa and he is the proud father of Naomi, Samuel, Niamiah, Neriah, and Noelle.

Robert and Adjoa Taylor

In Nashville, Davidson County there are 35,784 married couples with children under the age of 18. There are also 22,829 households led by single mothers with children under the age of 18. A large number of these homes are in North and East Nashville. Only 12% of the married couples were living below the poverty line while 49% of single mothers live below the poverty line. Based on the National Fatherhood Initiative Report on the cost of fatherhood absence, Nashville spends approximately $830 million on social service programs supporting the 22,829 father-absent households.

HBCUstory: Who was the most influential man in your life?

Robert Taylor: Of course, I’m going to say my father. He taught me what integrity was, he raised me to be a man of my word. He was a provider, he worked two or three jobs, to take care of our family. He set the bar pretty high; he was a good guy. I want to be able to follow in his footsteps with my own children.

HBCUstory: Have you met another man later in your life that has influenced you in other areas?

Robert Taylor: My father-in-law, Dr. Alexander Arthur, he was my professor at Fisk and he’s also my pastor. He is a man who isn’t ashamed to say he’s made mistakes in life. He drew on his faith to help him rebound and be successful in his roles as a husband, father, grandfather, and role model in the local community.

HBCUstory: What does fatherhood mean to you?

Robert Taylor: Fatherhood is leaving a legacy.

HBCUstory: How do you imagine your legacy?

Robert Taylor: I want to continue to build on the example my father set for me. My legacy will be one of love, integrity, and responsibility.

HBCUstory: What is The New Life Program?

Robert Taylor: The New Life Program is a place where fathers matter.   In an effort to make Nashville the best place for a child to be raised, fathers need skills, knowledge, and support to become actively involved in the lives of their children. The program provides comprehensive services including parenting education, relationship building, life skills training, employment and educational resources, risk reduction case management, economic stability support, and mentoring to maximize the physical, emotional, and academic well-being of Nashville children and families.

The New Life Program is being piloted in North and East Nashville. The program has three satellite locations, Martha O’Bryan Center in East Nashville, McGruder Family Resource Center and Hadley Park Community Center in North Nashville. The program will provide services to 500 Nashville fathers and 1300 children.

HBCUstory: What does leading this program mean to you?

Robert Taylor: This means a lot to me. I’ve fulfilled a career goal. After leaving Bowie State, I knew I had the ability to lead and manage a program. I didn’t know where I was going to lead, but I knew I would lead.

HBCUstory: What lesson(s) have you shared with your son?

Robert Taylor: I want him to take pride in who he is and who he will become. He comes from a legacy of good men who’ve done good for those coming behind them and he can and will do the same as he grows older.

HBCUstory: What do you see in the future for black fathers/ black men?

Robert Taylor: I see black men stepping up and reversing the trend of single parent households. It’s become the norm for us to celebrate single black mother, it’s become a badge of honor. But I look with a different perspective. I want to know who is helping to create the single parent households–I’m holding men responsible. Through The New Life Program and other initiatives like it, men, particularly black men, will be given the tools they need in to become good men; our program’s success will begin to change the trend of absentee fathers, and men will take an active role in rearing their children, changing the cycle and putting black communities back together.

For more information on The New Life Program, to enroll or to refer a Nashville father, please call 615.340.8989 or visit them on Facebook

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Second year doctoral student, E. Clare Stewart attends the Institute of Public Health at Florida A&M University. Her research interests include health inequities, fatherhood, collegiate health and minority family systems. She received her master of science in public health from Meharry Medical College School of Graduate Studies and Research and a bachelor of arts in biology from Fisk University.