Speaking & Teaching
Our African American history in the area of sports is in a word is outstanding. What is really special to me are the legendary coaches who patrolled the sidelines at the Historically Black Colleges especially in the 1950s’, and 1960s’. On my read aloud project The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project, I read the book, Breaking The Line which told the story of four of these magnificent men. The coaches discussed included Coach Merritt from Tennessee State, Coach Banks from Morgan State, Coach Robinson from Grambling State, and Coach Jake Gaither from Florida A&M. The book centered on the 1966 football season just before the exodus of our young African Americans athletes to the primary white universities of Southland. These black coaches didn’t have the enormous budgets or staff of the primary white institutions. But they had one thing that was overrode what the finances couldn’t buy, incredible character and dynamic leadership. Today, I focus on Coach Jake Gaither’s circle of influence. There was a commercial on when I was growing up about EF Hutton, when the company spoke you simply stayed quiet and listened. Well, Coach Jake was EF Hutton before EF Hutton. When Coach Gaither spoke everyone near him dropped everything and listened. We don’t have many of those men of excellence any longer. That’s why it is imperative that we never allow these men’s accomplishments to be forgotten. During the period when Jim Crow was ruling the south with oppression towards our African American ancestors. These men developed the leaders who in turned torn down the structures of white supremacy along with excelling in competitive sports.
168 years ago Frederick Douglass verbally assaulted America’s myth of freedom as it related to not only the enslaved African Americans bound in chains by the evilness of institutional slavery but Frederick Douglass also verbally assaulted the American myth of freedom for those African Americans who had escaped the chains of slavery and secured some microscopic level of freedom in this nation. Today, in 2020 American myth of absolute freedom for African Americans is still a huge question mark. The gaps that exist between white and black Americans is still substantially large in the major facets of life. If you look at the specific areas of health, education, economics, housing, environmental concerns, social and civil rights. You will still find America’s myth of African American equality that Frederick Douglass addressed in 1852 still relevant and prevalent in 2020. 95% of our African American ancestors were enslaved in 1852. But in 2020 why does this system that was supposed to lead to our equality after the Civil War still fail us? Ida Belle Wells stated that America failed us totally in 1865 when setting us free but setting us adrift with nothing that would allow us to really any level of full equality. Not one pug nickel or even an inch of land was how she stated it. Today, as we continue to fight for our measure of freedoms and gap building policies. We have dissension in our communities because we have failed to comprehend that our problems lead directly back to the insufficient payments we never received that other ethnic groups did receive enabling them to secure some elements of the American Dream. Until we as a people unite on the issue of being made whole due to the harms inflicted on us and our ancestors. We will continue to be fooled by the myth that Frederick Douglass exposed in 1852. The answers to our problems don’t lie in political party affiliations that lie in gaining policies that will uproot the evils that have impaired our communities. Today, I look back on this statement that Mr. Douglass made in 1852 with the knowledge that his words still ring true today about the myth of America’s mission of true African American equality across the board of this nation.
I remember hearing the African proverb "a live dog is better than a dead lion". To me it meant that no matter your circumstances that you are confronted with. You do have the internal ability to overcome that seemingly insurmountable obstacle. You don't have to resort to a negative solution that inflicts personal harm on yourself, or anyone else. That live dog that you think you are personally can overcome the obstacle that dead lion now has no chance to defeat or defend.
Just simply take the first step forward, then take another step forward, an another, an another, with each step the circumstances that looked insurmountable moves further and further away in the rearview mirror of life's experiences. Always focus your mind towards the future because it is the future that contains that solution. Just maybe, just maybe, that barrier you felt had no resolution or solution can indeed be defined as solvable even resolvable. You must understand that you hold the key to your issues in life. Sometimes the answers will not reveal themselves immediately. Just don't give in to hopelessness and press the button that will cause negative repercussions and don't make a decision or create an action that harms you or someone else.
You see can overcome the problem it's certainly not insurmountable. Take a moment or moments to reflect, analyze, and comprehend. Then make the move that you know will bring about the desired result. We sometimes move on impulse when impulse can cause tremendous damage or pain. We should understand and know that given another day that a dead lion doesn’t have, may indeed provide another opportunity.
So keep that thought in mind, another day to confront the obstacle. If the obstacle is life or death then you still take a moment,and maybe what you thought was life or death really wasn't. My sincere hope is that we all can make the calls that lead to life, not death, of your dreams and hopes. In this nation it seems we’ve been feeding on bones of oppression and depravity for far too long.