CHATHAM — A toy drive for local kids and an art exhibit focusing on promoting positive images of black fathers are two projects Lawrence D'Antignac is undertaking with pride.
The 79-year-old founder and owner of The Woodshop Custom Cabinets, Picture Frames & Art Gallery, 441 E. 75th St., said he is hoping these two upcoming projects change the way people, especially the media, think about black fathers.
"We have had the Million Man March and the Million Father March, and still I see the media only reporting the negative things that go on in the black community," said D'Antignac, a Chatham resident for 60 years. "I just want to shine a positive light on 75th Street and show people there are some good black men that exist in this community."
He added that his last name, D'Antignac, is French but no one in his family is French.
"My last name derived from slavery," contended the grandfather of four and father of four adult children.
To boost his claim that there are plenty of positive black fathers in his community, D'Antignac will host an art exhibit, 365 Days With Dad, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 13-15.
"This will be Father's Day in December. A day when black men bring their children to receive a toy," said D'Antignac, who has been in business for 39 years. "The artist for this exhibit lives in St. Louis and is a positive young man who decided to paint a portrait of a black dad doing something positive with his children for all 365 days of the year."
The project also is supported by Wayman Freelon, store manager at Walgreens, 11 E. 75th St.
"I think this is a phenomenal opportunity to showcase black men doing something worthy and that's being responsible fathers," Freelon said.
"We are a drop-off location for the Toys For Tots Foundation and unwrapped toys are being accepted until Dec. 18. We have participated the last few years and this year we are donating toys to The Woodshop and to The Calahan Foundation in Englewood."
D'Antignac said he plans to donate the toys to St. Mark AME Zion Church, 7358 S. Cottage Grove Ave., in Grand Crossing.
"The church will make sure the toys go to needy children. But there is one catch: Toys must be picked up by the father and child or an adult male," said D'Antignac, who has been married to his wife, Marvita, for more than 50 years. "Now that's a sight the media does not show about our black men."