The Dad Gang and Lego partner to show the bonding power of play this Father’s Day

The Dad Gang and Lego highlight new ways for Black fathers to bond with their kids in their new "Building to Bonding” partnership.

The Dad Gang Lego, Lego the dad gang, “Building to Bonding” legos, Building to Bonding The Dad Gang, The Dad Gang, Sean Williams The Dad Gang, What is the dad gang?, Black fatherhood organizations, organizations for Black fathers, organizations for Black dads, Fatherhood organizations theGrio.com
Fathers at The Dad Gang's annual March of Dads (Photo courtesy of The Dad Gang)

In the tradition of the 1995 Million Man March, Sean Williams, author and founder of The Dad Gang, an organization redefining the narrative of Black fatherhood, is inviting hundreds of Black fathers to join him in the March of Dads this Father’s Day. For The Dad Gang’s fifth annual march, Williams hopes to see hundreds of Black men flood Panama Street in Los Angeles accompanied by their children as they celebrate the role of “dad.” 

March of Dads follows The Dad Gang’s mission to redefine the narrative of Black fatherhood. In 2016, Williams realized how crucial it was to dismantle stereotypes about Black fathers when a woman in a grocery store approached him with a backhanded “compliment.” While roaming the produce section with his second child strapped to his chest in a baby carrier, Williams recalled, an older white woman stopped him to say, “It’s good to see that you stuck around.” Though he understood the reasons behind her ignorance, Williams saw the uncomfortable moment as an opportunity to give a wake-up call. 

“This was a teachable moment for her…and is probably a teachable moment for a lot of people in America. So, I said there needs to be a platform that can show you what real Black fatherhood looks like, as opposed to what [people] see on TV.” Williams said, explaining the genesis of the organization. “What if I create a platform solely dedicated to Black fathers — showing how we play with our kids, how we talk to our toddlers, how we deal with our teenagers?” 

Fueled by the encounter, Williams created The Dad Gang Instagram page in 2016. It quickly gained the attention of young fathers across the country, and The Dad Gang’s growing following revealed how many fathers could relate to Williams’ grocery store experience. Eventually, the founder decided to take his community offline and host the first rendition of March of Dads under the name “Strolling with the Homies.” Inspired by an activity he’d started with his immediate group of friends, Williams extended the invitation to his followers to join him in New York’s Prospect Park. To his surprise, 80 dads showed up.

Recommended Stories

“In that moment, immediately I understood that this means a lot to these guys,” Williams told theGrio. “What tends to happen to dads when they’re nesting, and they have a baby [is that in] trying to be supportive of their partner and that baby, that they kind of lose a social life [because] you’re trying to figure out where you fit in this new dynamic. So it’s a very delicate time for a lot of men, and in those moments, the last thing that they’re seeking is community, when they really should be seeking community.” 

The Dad Gang Lego, Lego the dad gang, “Building to Bonding” legos, Building to Bonding The Dad Gang, The Dad Gang, Sean Williams The Dad Gang, What is the dad gang?, Black fatherhood organizations, organizations for Black fathers, organizations for Black dads, Fatherhood organizations theGrio.com
Sean Williams, founder of The Dad Gang, at a March of Dads event. (Photo courtesy of The Dad Gang)

In the years that followed, Strolling with the Homies transformed into March of Dads, a community event and public demonstration expanding across several states. Hosting a variety of community-driven events and launching Random Acts of Dadness, a nonprofit organization supporting fathers and families in need, The Dad Gang works to not only dismantle stereotypes but also support Black fathers’ wellbeing. Now, the organization is partnering with Lego to host a special series of dad marches across the country. Through the “Building to Bonding” partnership, the Black fatherhood network and toy manufacturer hope to further empower Black fathers and their children to connect through play. 

“I’m a huge Lego fan. My son is a huge Lego fan,” the father of three said about the new collaboration. “It’s something that we do to bond because, early on, I understood the importance of playing with kids.  If you’re trying to bond with them, more than likely, it’s going to be on their terms, so you should play.” 

Following the empowerment rally and walk, the upcoming March of Dads will include a brick-building activation where fathers and their children can collaborate and create Lego builds while following intentionally crafted guides designed to foster creativity, communication and deeper connections. 

“What we did was co-create a campaign that shows dads how to use these bricks in other ways, dig a little deeper,” the Dad Gang founder explained. “Kids have a way of building in a way [where] you can just tell that they’re using their imagination. So the [campaign’s prompts] really allow us to guide them through that creativity while also asking some penetrating yet easy questions.” 

“Anybody who loves Lego — anybody who loves parenthood, period — can use these prompts to further that deeper connection,” he continued. 

Encouraging activities where the child guides the parent through the building process and more, the “Building to Bonding” campaign opens up a new world of understanding where playing becomes a mechanism for bonding. The prompts will also be available online at thedadgang.com and on Lego’s website. In addition to creating fun memories and fostering bonds, Williams notes that playing can also be a healing experience for fathers.  

“You’ve got to play; I always tell dads in the community, ‘the children playing is our chance at a second childhood,’” he added. “As adults, we get so bogged down with work that we think it’s all about work and making money and providing and all of this when really and truly, the relaxation and the calmness you get from just taking time out to intentionally play is probably more healthy for you … it’s as good as therapy, for some.” 

Now raising a 19-year-old daughter, an 8-year-old daughter, and a 7-year-old son, Williams says the main tool that got him through the ever-changing landscape of fatherhood was learning to give himself grace. 

“It was both of our first times. It was my first time parenting her at 11, and it was her first time even being 11,” he said, reflecting on raising his eldest child. “At every age, at every stage, I give the kids grace to grow, and I try to express to them ‘Yo, this daddy-and-child thing, it’s a two-people job … It’s both of us. I might have more wisdom and age than you, but let’s help each other be the best.’ So I give them a lot of grace, and I give myself a lot of grace.”

However, knowing that positive parenting can sometimes be easier talked about than done, Williams emphasizes to fathers that “being a dope dad doesn’t mean being the perfect dad. You absolutely have to be present, but you don’t have to be perfect.”

Join The Dad Gang and register for the March of Dads 2024 tour at thedadgang.com.


Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle writer for theGrio covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE