Uncle Phil Was a Fresh Take on Black Fatherhood

James Avery used the experiences of his own life, and an absentee father, to shape his portrayal.

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As the father of two daughters who were adopted at birth, Uncle Phil’s commitment to claim children beyond his own has been a powerful example to me of what fatherhood could look like. James Avery, I’m sure, will be remembered for making sure we all know what black fatherhood looks like.

Mark Anthony Neal is a professor of African and African-American studies at Duke University and a fellow at the Hiphop Archive and Research Institute at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. He is the author of several books, including the recent Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities. Follow him on Twitter.

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