Thursday, January 24, 2008

Black History Refresher Course

I’m writing this post from Dulles International Airport on my way to Eugene for this week’s PAC-10 Hoops games. Oregon hosts UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday. Check your local listings for times and channels.

Some of you might be thinking that flying through Dulles might be a round about way to get to Oregon. Well, you don’t know the half of it considering I started this 8-day trip by traveling to Pullman for Washington State’s win over Oregon last Sunday. Frequent flyer Premier Class, here I come!

The reason I came to Washington, DC was to shoot segments for FSN’s presentation of Americans In Focus, a half hour special showcasing some of the most heralded and unheralded figures in African American history. The show debuts nationally on February 2.

I am so proud to be a part of this ground-breaking effort by FSN. Not only is it the first show of its kind to air on our network, but it also takes audiences away from the world of sports and introduces them to those who sacrificed their livelihoods and their lives in the battle for equal rights as well as those who helped shape African American culture.

I consider myself above the learning curve when it comes to the average person’s knowledge of black history, but the preparation for this 30-minute special was an eye-opening experience. Not only did I learn more about the history of my culture, but I gained an even greater appreciation for the efforts of my forefathers.

Black people not only built this country with their blood, sweat and tears, but black people helped shaped the ideals of The Constitution, made remarkable breakthroughs in science & medicine, and set the standard of excellence in the arts.

Besides being thoroughly entertained and educated by Americans In Focus, I hope people who watch the show are also inspired to learn even more about African American history-- especially black people.

It seems as though young African Americans today either don’t know or don’t care enough about their past to carry themselves in a more self-respecting manner. We see it everywhere from kids running to the back of the bus or the classroom to grown men and women dressing like they just got out of prison or are on their way to be an extra for a taping of The Wire.

Rosa Parks did not go to jail for Rodney and Tanya to sit in the back of a bus.

The "Little Rock Nine" did not risk their lives in the face of blatant racist terror so that Monique and Jamal would sit in the back of a classroom.

And 300,000 people did not march on our nation’s capital so that Shawn and Celeste could walk around looking like common street thugs.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated during his I Have A Dream speech: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

We should have a greater sense of pride. Our ancestors deserve better.

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