Dr. Lincoln Diuguid is a fighter – as readers will learn from the very beginning of the book Our Fathers: Making Black Men.
Award-winning journalist and author Lewis Diuguid, uses his third book to pay tribute to his father, known affectionately as “Doc.” But it also praises those with a commitment to community building – and how their lives and work helped transform a South St. Louis block.
Doc fought back against the systemic racism that prevented him from being a household name, despite his pioneering work as a chemist and scientist.
Instead of resigning to the times, Doc, who earned a PhD from Cornell University in chemistry, created Du-Good Chemical Laboratories & Manufacturers on South Jefferson. According to Lewis, Du-Good laid the foundation for the block’s strip of black businesses which poured into the surrounding neighborhood – which is the meat of Our Fathers: Making Black Men.
Doc and the crop that were his neighbors in enterprise developed character and shaped young minds. Countless young people who otherwise may have been lost to the crime and violence that eventually creeped into surrounding areas as a result of urban decay were saved.
Lewis, who spent nearly 40 years as a reporter, editor, columnist and editorial board member for the Kansas City Star newspaper, will return home to St. Louis on Saturday, August 19 for a special book signing and discussion of Our Fathers: Making Black Men.
“The goal of this very important book is that by describing what’s missing in America in the upbringing of our children, we can help to generate that cornerstone of character development in our youths’ lives and never lose it in the future.” Lewis Diuguid said in the book’s introduction.
Doc was a phenomenal man and pioneer who fought to the very end of his nearly 100 years. When he couldn’t get the opportunities he deserved as a pioneering chemist and scientific genius, he decided to create his own.
The grandson of slaves set up shop in 1947. Doc bought and converted a veterinary hospital into Du-Good Chemical Laboratories & Manufacturers thanks to his family pooling together $60,000 (more than $500,000 in today’s money) to purchase the property that would house his business.
There he developed anti-cancer compounds, as well as household and personal products. But more importantly, he developed a neighborhood and the young minds who occupied it.
“Doc made them start to believe in themselves and what they had to offer beyond the unforgiving dead-end of the streets,” Lewis said of his father’s outreach efforts in the book. “He would take the urchins off of South Jefferson Avenue into his lab and build them into men.”
He also used his passion for science and youth-building into the classroom. While operating Du-Good, Doc simultaneously worked as a science educator. He chaired the physical science department at what would eventually become Harris-Stowe State University for 25 years.
But more than a tribute to the work of his father, Lewis pays homage to the unsung heroes who used poured their gifts back into the communities that they came from.
“Here is where mothers, grandmothers and aunts hung from windows and kept a watchful eye over all who walked and played before them,” Lewis said. “It’s where mothers cried, people died and fathers went to work.”
The book is an ode to those who worked with little to no fanfare to counter the negatives images that fueled misconceptions about the hardworking people who rose from the ashes of slavery and systematic oppression – and yet still managed to pour into their communities as they relentlessly pressed forward towards achieving the American dream.
“The America in the blocks surrounding Jefferson Avenue was not unlike white America,” Lewis said. “It’s just that few in the mainstream bothered to look.”
Lewis W. Diuguid will sign and discuss his book Our Fathers Making Black Men at 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 at the Community Women Against Hardship Family Support Center, 3963 W Belle Pl, St. Louis, MO 63108. For more information, call (314) 289-7523.