Category Archives: Sports

NFL tells players patriotism is more important than protest – here’s why that didn’t work during WWI

 By Chad Williams

The recent decision by the NFL regarding player protests and the national anthem has yet again exposed the fraught relationship between African-Americans and patriotism.

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The NFL is attempting to shut down protests like this one by members of the Cleveland Browns. AP Photo/David Richard

The controversy has taken place nearly a century after another time when African-Americans painfully grappled with questions concerning loyalty to the nation and the struggle for equal rights.

W.E.B. Du Bois. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

In July 1918, at the height of American participation in World War I, W. E. B. Du Bois, the acclaimed black scholar, activist and civil rights leader, penned arguably the most controversial editorial of his career, “Close Ranks.”

“Let us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks shoulder to shoulder with our own white fellow citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy,” he advised his fellow African-Americans. Du Bois acknowledged that this was “no ordinary sacrifice,” but black people would nevertheless make it “gladly and willingly with our eyes lifted to the hills.”

Pressured from league owners, white fans and the president of the United States, black NFL players are now faced with the dilemma of closing ranks and forgetting their “special grievances,” or continuing to protest against racial injustice.

The history of African-Americans in World War I, as I have explored in my work, offers important lessons about how to confront this challenge.

The NFL, race and the national anthem

Last season, during the playing of the national anthem, dozens of NFL players kneeled, locked arms and raised their fists in protest against police and state-sanctioned violence inflicted upon African-Americans. Their actions elicited a fierce backlash, much of it fueled by President Donald Trump, who encouraged his overwhelmingly white base of supporters to boycott the NFL so long as players, in his view, continued to disrespect the flag. Seeking to avoid further controversy, on May 23, Commissioner Roger Goddell announced that for the upcoming season, “All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.” Not following this directive could result in teams being fined and players subject to “appropriate discipline.”

Approximately 70 percent of the players in the NFL are African-American. They have also been the most visible faces of the national anthem protests, which began in 2016 with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is currently unemployed and suing owners for collusion to keep him out of the league.

I see the decision by the NFL as an unmistakable attempt to police the actions of its majority black work force, impose what amounts to a loyalty oath, and enforce through intimidation and threat a narrow definition of patriotism. The message is clear: Either demonstrate unqualified devotion to the United States or be punished.

African-Americans and World War I

African-Americans confronted the same stark choice during World War I.

In previous conflicts, African-Americans had sacrificed and shed blood for the nation. But patriotism alone has never been enough to overcome white supremacy. By 1917, as the United States prepared to enter the world war, disfranchisement, Jim Crow segregation, and racial violence had rendered African-Americans citizens in name only.

Black people thus had every reason to question the legitimacy of fighting in a war that President Woodrow Wilson declared would make the world “safe for democracy.” African-Americans immediately exposed the hypocrisy of Wilson’s words, while also seizing the opportunity to hold the United States accountable to its principles. They did this, in part, by serving in the army, as some 380,000 black soldiers labored and fought to not just win the war, but to also make democracy a reality for themselves.

African-Americans also recognized the importance of protest. Discrimination and racial violence continued throughout the war, highlighted by the East St. Louis massacre in July 1917, where white mobs killed as many as 200 black people. In response, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organized a Silent Protest Parade in New York City, where more than 10,000 black men, women and children peacefully marched down Fifth Avenue carrying signs, one of which read, “Patriotism and loyalty presuppose protection and liberty.”

‘Closing ranks’ and the costs

Just as it does today, protesting racial injustice during the war carried risk. The federal government wielded the repressive power of American nationalism to crush disloyalty to the United States. The Espionage Act (1917) and Sedition Act (1918) severely curtailed civil liberties by criminalizing “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language.”

“100 percent Americanism” entailed the policing of immigrant communities, restricting freedom of the press, jailing anti-war activists, and monitoring African-Americans, including W. E. B. Du Bois, for potential radicalism. This pressure, along with the personal desire to demonstrate his loyalty to the nation, compelled Du Bois to soften his critiques of the government and issue his call for African-Americans to “close ranks.”

“The words were hardly out of my mouth when strong criticism was rained upon it,” Du Bois later remembered. Even during a time of war, most African-Americans refused to set aside the “special grievances” of segregation, lynching and systemic racial abuse. And Du Bois paid a heavy price. William Monroe Trotter, the fiery newspaper editor and civil rights leader from Boston, branded Du Bois “a rank quitter,” adding that his one-time ally had “weakened, compromised, deserted the fight.”

But African-Americans, having fought for democracy, would surely be rewarded for their loyal service and patriotic sacrifices, Du Bois reasoned.

To the contrary, they were greeted with a torrent of racial violence and bloodshed that came to be known as the “Red Summer” of 1919. White people, North and South, were determined to remind black people of their place in the nation’s racial hierarchy. Race riots erupted throughout the country and the number of African-Americans lynched skyrocketed, including several black veterans still in uniform.

The NFL’s decision is essentially an attempt to appease the mob in 2018.

Echoing the backlash following World War I, the vitriolic reactions to the national anthem protests reflect what happens when African-Americans physically and symbolically challenge an understanding of patriotism rooted in white supremacy and racist ideas of black subservience. I believe the NFL has acquiesced to the threats of President Trump and the unrest of its white fan base by establishing a policy that requires black players to remain docile, obedient employees, devoid of any outward expression of racial and political consciousness, which sole purpose is to entertain and enrich their owners.

And now, the NFL wants black players to “close ranks” by giving them the false choice between standing for the pledge or hiding their protest in the locker room, conveniently out of sight of fans in the stadium and away from television cameras.

The league ignores any mention of the “special grievances” of police brutality, racial profiling and antiblack harassment that remain alive and well. Ironically, the NFL has been the one to transform the flag into a political weapon to silence black activism, protect its corporate interests and maintain a racial status quo. Displays of patriotism and loyalty to nation are meaningless when not accompanied by the actual freedoms and protections that come with being a citizen.

W. E. B. Du Bois would spend the rest of his life questioning his decision for African Americans to “close ranks” during World War I. He ultimately recognized that until America reckoned with its racist history and embraced the humanity of black people, the nation would remain deeply wounded. At the age of 90, reflecting on the questions that shaped his decades of struggle, Du Bois pondered, “How far can love for my oppressed race accord with love for the oppressing country? And when these loyalties diverge, where shall my soul find refuge?”

The ConversationLike the battlefields of France 100 years ago, the football fields of NFL stadiums are just one place where African-Americans have historically sought to answer these questions. And simply closing ranks has never been sufficient. In this moment of racial repression and moral mendacity, when the ideals of democracy are undermined daily, the debate over national anthem protests reminds us that the fight to affirm the sanctity of black life is much longer and deeper than a Sunday afternoon game.


Re-published with permission under license from The Conversation

Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies, Brandeis University

Boycott NFL if Players are Forced to Stand for Anthem

According to a CNBC article, the NFL will vote whether to require players to stand for the "National Anthem" during their next meeting.

If the NFL owners vote for the requirement, they will be on the wrong side of history. The "Star-Spangled Banner" as it was originally written contained four verses, however, only the first verse is sung as our National Anthem. The third verse, celebrated the death of slaves fighting to free themselves, see the video below.

According to VICE, “African-American males are only six percent of the United States population, but comprise nearly 70 percent of the players in the National Football League.” The NFL’s 32 teams earned around $12 billion in 2015 with merchandise sales over $1.55 billion.

If the NFL benefits immensely from the work of black men, why doesn’t it address serious issues of concern to America’s black community? Specifically, why hasn’t the NFL addressed the issue of unarmed black men being killed by law enforcement? "If you're Comfortable with My Oppression, then You are My Oppressor".

If the NFL votes to force players to stand, civil rights organizations including those that receive "bribe" funding from the NFL need to call for a boycott. I will personally boycott the NFL, just like I did when the WNBA took a stance against its players, and hope others will join me.

As Nick Canon's spoken word poem recently stated, "Stand For What!"

Colin Kaepernick and other players refusing to stand during the national anthem has elicited a greater uproar from the NFL than the existence of police brutality and the killing of unarmed black teens and men. To paraphrase MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", "You deplore the demonstrations taking place by NFL Players. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations."

It's bad enough that the league seems to have sanctioned Kaepernick by refusing to hire him, but forcing Black players to stand in direct opposition to their belief or self-interest is unconscionable. If you don't support athletes and entertainers when they stand up for your rights, don't expect them to continue speaking out.

A group of pastors has already called for a Blackout of the NFL, see their video below.

Let's be clear, Colin Kaepernick was standing up for others when he refused to stand; it is very unlikely, he would have personally been a victim of police brutality because of his fame and wealth. He put all that on the line to protect not only his rights but yours and mine as well.

$60 Million in Public Money For a Soccer Stadium? NO!

Yesterday, St. Louis MLS owners and the City of St. Louis announce charitable partnerships. How insulting! Bribing us with our own money? 

If the voters approve giving millionaires $60 million dollars of public money, those millionaires will give the voters $5 million of their own money back over a 20 year period ($250,000 per year). There were allegations of corruption during the previous stadium proposal. St. Louis, if you give me $60 million, I'll give $10 million back, and actually do some good with it; how's that for a great deal? 

I played soccer recreationally when I was younger, but nothing organized or for an actual team. When my family moved back into the City of St. Louis, my youngest son attended Lexington Elementary school which had a soccer program that he played in which I believe was funded by a sports or soccer foundation. I like soccer and I certainly do not have a problem with professional soccer returning to St. Louis. However, there are plenty of better ways to spend $60 million dollars than on a soccer stadium that the City would have no ownership interest in. St. Louis already owns a stadium and an arena and should maintain those properly before spending money on someone else's stadium.

The City has much more urgent problems than trying to fund a soccer stadium. The City of St. Louis has one of the highest homicide rates in the country and just recently, a man died after being shot at the Busch Stadium Metro Link stop. Public money needs to be spent on public problems.

Here's my idea for that money. Contact Habitat for Humanity, Rankin, Larry Rice and other organizations involved with the homeless. Every time I go downtown to the St. Louis Public Library, City Hall, Municipal or Circuit Court buildings, you can't help be see the tragic sight of homeless people with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

St. Louis homeless encampment downtown on Locust near 15th street.

According to the 2015 homeless census, there were more than 1,300 homeless people in St. Louis City alone. If I had not developed legal skills, I and my family might have been among them when both my wife and I lost our jobs. Computerization, artificial intelligence, and robotics will take away half of all jobs in the United States, and that estimate might be low. In the future, it won't be an immigrant taking away your job, it will be a computer or a robot. How many paychecks are you away from being homeless? 

Crews of homeless can be trained with the skills to rehab city-owned homes. As those homes are rehabbed, some of the homeless people that participated in the rehab can use sweat equity earned towards rent or home ownership. For example, a rehabbed three bedroom home can house a homeless family or three single men or women each with their own room. They could continue using sweat equity to pay rent while building additional skills that will eventually lead to employment and being able to pay actual rent. 

Once place in sweat equity housing, those new tenants could put those new skills to use as part of a revitalization crew. Those revitalization crews would perform maintenance projects in the neighborhoods where they are placed. Cleaning up vacant lots and properties, planting and maintaining urban gardens, assisting with repairs to the homes of elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners.

The homeless population benefits from learning and applying new skills, meaningful employment and the prospect of a decent place to live. The neighborhood benefits from having vacant city-owned property being put back into good use, neighborhood improvement projects and sources of nutritious neighborhood grown produce. 

Once some of the formerly homeless individuals have been stabilized, they would receive assistance with Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) paperwork and applications to attend St. Louis Community College, Rankin or other trade schools. 

This is just one example of how I would spend $60 million and how public money can and should be spent. However, public money should never be spent simply to make rich men richer. When you hear politicians fighting hard to give your tax money to rich men, you need to replace those politicians with others who fight hard to make your tax dollars enrich your community rather than individuals.

Colin Kaepernick Is Not Alone Anymore – Fellow Athletes Join His Protest

Colin Kaepernick is the latest athlete following the example of Muhammad Ali and others using their celebrity status to bring attention to injustice and oppression to bring about change. Many Black people had become so accustomed or comfortable with the status quo, that many of us were not speaking out when we should. Others have remained silent because of fear of lossing their job or being criticized. However, there comes a point at which a person must ask themself, how much disrespect, humiliation, injustice and oppression are they willing to accept and ignore. 

Unfortunately, at least one black high profile former 49ers great, Jerry Rice, has been critical when he said, 'All Lives Matter,' Kaepernick should 'respect the flag'. During last year's debate about the Confederate Battle Flag, we pointed out similarities between the history of oppression and injustice that occurred under the U.S. Flag. 

Victims of their own ignorance

Jerry Rice and others are victims of their own ignorance. Rice obviously doesn't know the racist history behind the "National Anthem". “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was written by Francis Scott Key, a slave owner, about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. One of the key British tactics during the war was active recruitment of American slaves. 

The "Star-Spangled Banner" as originally written contained four verses, however, only the first verse is associated with our National Anthem. The third verse, celebrating the death of slaves who’d freed themselves, contains:  "No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave". 

Francis Scott Key was Washington D.C.'s District Attorney from 1833-1840 and he used his office and its influence to vehemently defend slavery. Key prosecuted a doctor who lived in Georgetown for possessing abolitionist pamphlets. In the case of U.S. v. Reuben Crandall, Key sought to have the defendant hanged, asserting the property rights of slave owners carried more weight than the free speech rights of those arguing to abolish slavery. Key conspired with pro-slavery Congressmen to pass a series of "gag rules"  in 1836 to quash all anti-slavery petitions and prevent them from being read or discussed.

Meritorious manumission was the legal act of freeing a slave because of some distinguished service to his white master, including snitching on or some other betrayal of fellow slaves. A legacy of meritorious manumission is the "House Negro" where some in the Black community are still willing to sell out others within the community in order to increase their own level of comfort or wealth at the expense of others. Some are so brainwashed by a lifetime of propaganda that they don't even realize that they are participants in a racialized process.

Colin Kaepernick has been taking a whole lot of heat since he made the decision to sit during the national anthem in protest of the way people of color are treated in the United States. On Thursday night, Kaepernick once again refused to stand while the Star Spangled Banner was sung, but this time, he wasn’t the only one.

Kaepernick was joined in his protest Thursday night by fellow 49er Eric Reid, a safety, who knelt beside the quarterback as the national anthem rang out through the stadium before they played the San Diego Chargers. Reid also serves as the representative for the player’s union and has been supportive of Kaepernick all week, despite the uproar over his protest.

"I believe in what [Kaepernick] is doing," Reid told ESPN. "I believe that there are issues in this country—many issues, too many to name. It's not one particular issue. But there are people out there that feel there are injustices being made and happening in our country on a daily basis. I just wanted to show him I support him. I know there are other people in this country that feel the same way."

When the song ended, the two players stood and embraced. "It was amazing," Kaepernick told ESPN. "Me and Eric had many conversations and he approached me and said 'I support what you're doing, I support what your message is, let's think about how we can do this together.' We talked about it at length and we wanted to make sure the message that we're trying to send isn't lost with the actions that come along with it."

Those actions have now expanded, as Kaepernick on Thursday pledged to donate $1 million of his salary to community organizations focused on social justice causes.

"I've been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people. I have to help these communities," he said. "It's not right that they're not put in the position to succeed, or given the opportunities to succeed."

"The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we have to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed, we have a lot of people that aren't treated equally, aren't given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed," he added.

However, it is not only his teammates who are joining Kaepernick’s protest. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat while the national anthem was sung on Thursday night before the start of their game against the Oakland Raiders. In Oakland, Lane was the only member of either team to sit down during the anthem. He said he didn't know Kaepernick personally, but was "standing behind" him. After the game, he said, "It's something I plan to keep doing until I feel like justice is being served."

As of Saturday afternoon, Kaepernick's has become the top-selling jersey overall in the team shop, ahead of Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, NaVorro Bowman, and the customizable jerseys. We're excited to see the support people are demonstrating. When entertainers and athletes speak up for us, we must stand with them.

The 49ers have played four exhibition games this year and Kaepernick has not stood for the national anthem at any of these games. Nobody seemed to notice until  his first game in uniform, which was last Friday. Kaepernick explained that he wasn’t standing as a protest of the way the lives of minorities are continually snuffed out by those who are sworn to serve and protect them. He noted that the only consequence for these “murders” is a paid vacation.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

It is good to see other teammates and professional football players standing beside Kaepernick and standing up for all African American lives in America. Hopefully, their numbers will grow and they will continue to use the national platform at their disposal to help bring awareness to the systemic racism plaguing not only the country in general but the criminal justice system in particular. 

Active Duty Military Members and Veterans Stand in Support of Kaepernick

U.S. military veterans are speaking out in support of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose protest against the national anthem prompted a wave of criticism claiming he had disrespected veterans by not paying tribute to the American flag.

The hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick took off on Twitter this week in response to the right-wing outrage, and as Kaepernick himself clarified that his sit-down protest was only meant to critique state violence and oppression against people of color.

"I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country," he said Sunday. "I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. [But] people are dying in vain because this country isn't holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody."

The hashtag began trending Tuesday night as veterans posted photos of themselves in their military gear and noted the hypocrisy of the backlash against Kaepernick.

"I'd never try to shame someone with 'patriotism' in order to silence their 1st amend Right,"one wrote.

"Don't use my service—or that of any veteran—to justify the silencing of black Americans. Not on my watch," said another.

Meanwhile, others pointed out that even the national anthem itself has a racist undertone, with one verse ending in a celebration of slavery. And as Oakland, California-based writer Elizabeth Ann Thompson wrote for The Progressive on Tuesday, "instead of being offended and reacting to Kap's protest, we should emulate his teammates in trying to understand where he is coming from. He is giving voice to the voiceless. He is speaking for Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and the countless other black and brown folks who are killed by the police every year."

Kudos to you Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid and Jeremy Lane, and Kudos to all the others speaking out in support.


Complete version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" showing spelling and punctuation from Francis Scott Key's manuscript in the Maryland Historical Society collection

O say can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream, 'Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion A home and a Country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation! Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto – "In God is our trust," And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


Some of the material in this post was republished with permission under license from Addicting Info and Common Dreams

WNBA Boycott Ended

On Friday, July 21, 2016, I announced a personal boycott of the WNBA and asked others to join me in support of the black female basketball players who took a stand against police brutality.

I am happy to report that the WNBA has withdrawn the fines to both the organizations and the players. For any of you that joined us in our short boycott or wrote to the WNBA, thank you. The next time you watch a WNBA game or purchase merchandise, remember the power your choices and dollars have. Use that power to bring about the change you want. 

The beverage boycott, however, is still active.

We can no longer allow others to silence us or tell us how to complain or protest. 

"It's foolish to let your oppressor tell you to forget the oppression they inflicted on you"

WNBA, If you want our support, you need to support us!

The WNBA fined the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury $5000 each and their players $500 each for wearing black warm-up shirts that violated the league's uniform policy. The players wore the t-shirts in acknowledgment of recent shootings by and against police officers.

We must support those who take a stand for us. When athletes and celebrities speak up against injustice, they often become targets. The WNBA is trying to silence these women by fining them. If we don't stand up for them, why would they take a stand the next time? We can't expect people to put their career in jeopardy for us if we remain silent. Show these women you appreciate their gesture and support them by putting pressure on the WNBA to reverse the fines. 

Today, I left the following message using the WNBA's contact page.

As a black basketball fan, I was offended to hear that your organization fined players for wearing t-shirt honoring black shooting victims. As mentioned by one of the player's representatives, "You have a league that is 90 — if not above 90 percent African American — and you have an issue that is directly affecting them and the people they know and you have a league that isn't willing to side with them." Until you reverse the player fines, I will be boycotting the WNBA and asking others to join me on my blog, court.rchp.com, a sited dedicated to providing free legal information. If you want our support, you need to support us! 

Just as the league allowed players to wear stand with Orlando t-shirts, to honor the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, I expect the same consideration when the victims are black instead of LGBT.

I urge our readers to share this page with others and stand in support of these players that same way they stood in support of those shooting victims and their families. Send a message to the WNBA and any other organization that believes it's okay to disrespect our causes and issues while at the same time expecting us to support them with our attention and dollars.

If you believe as I do that it was wrong for the league to allow players to wear t-shirts showing support for some shooting victims but not others, boycott the WNBA until they reverse those fines. Don't watch the games or purchase any WNBA merchandise. Change truly does start with us!

23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black in America

Alicia Keys and an A-list roster of celebrities including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Adam Levine, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Pink, Chris Rock, Bono, and others, are demanding change and explain why it's time to take action to heal the long history of systemic racism in America.

In January, we mentioned how black entertainers need to pool their talent and resources. Taking a stand against oppression and injustice with the video, "23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black in America", is a great first step.

See, "Protest Songs Inspired by Police Killings" and "The Secret Meeting That Changed Rap Music and Destroyed a Generation".


NBA Players Speak Out

This year’s “ESPY Awards” which aired on ABC yesterday, opened with NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James delivering a message regarding last week’s death of two African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement, and the Dallas attack on police officers that left five dead and several others injured. 

ESPY Award (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) is presented  to recognize individual  and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the previous calendar year.

Muhammad Ali was honored during the Espy's.

On July 13th, during the ESPY awards gave a tribute to Muhammad Ali the boxing great an humanitarian who passed away on June 3rd of this year. Ali's tribute was a hightlight of the In Memoriam portion of the show. Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke about his friend and said that Ali had the ability to make the impossible seem real and he also said, "Every athlete handles fame in their own way. Some people revel in it. Some people aren't so comfortable with it. Muhammad Ali used it to speak his mind." Kareem said that he hopes that other atheletes will take notice of the legend and remember what it is that made him "The Greatest". Chance gave a musical tribute after Kareem's statement. 

Kareem Abjul-Jabbar and Chance The Rapper Honor Muhammad Ali at 2016 ESPY Awards 

I am certain the attention and reflection of Muhammad Ali's life after his death has inspired many atheletes and entertainers to take a stand and speak out about injustice motivated by the Greatest's extrodinary example. See, "Muhammad Ali's Memorial Service – Tributes of Greatness".

Muhammad Ali’s Memorial Service – Tributes of Greatness

Dr. Kevin Cosby set the tone and delivered an outstanding and fitting eulogy to Muhammad Ali.

My brother and uncle attended the Muhammad Ali memorial service in Louisville yesterday. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but I was able to watch it thanks to Bounce TV's live coverage. Bounce TV is majority owned and operated by African Americans. We need more stations like Bounce to overcome the racial bias of white media.

World leaders, stars and regular people from all over the world of all faiths and stations in life were inspired and in awe of Mr. Ali's greatness not as a boxing champion, but as a person and humanitarian. Muhammad Ali's memorial included speakers of many religious faiths. Rabbi Michael Lerner's eulogy was a remarkable example of Ali inspired activism.

Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali's wife, displayed tremendous poise and strength with her remarkable tribute to her husband.

As I watched Muhammad Ali's memorial service, I couldn't help but be reminded of all the other great inspiring American Black men and women who transcended their circumstances or professions and helped changed the world such as Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune, Booker T. Washington, A. Philip Randolph, Ida B. Wells, Dorothy Height, W.E.B. Dubois, Jessie Owens, Jackie Robinson, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelo, Harry Belafonte, Michael Jackson, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Barack Obama, St. Louisans (Annie Malone, Frankie Muse Freeman, my uncle Dick Gregory) and many others. As a people, we are capable of amazing feats and humanity, especially considering the history of our circumstance.

Billy Crystal Eulogy Speech at Muhammad Ali Memorial Funeral:

Bill Clinton Delivers Eulogy at Ali Funeral FULL Speech

Although, President Barack Obama couldn't attend the funeral of Muhammad Ali because his daughter was graduating the day of the funeral, President Obama paid a moving tribute.

Use Ali's example of intelligence, wisdom, courage, humility, and humanity to inspire you to see through the lies of history and stand up for yourself and others.

See our post, "Muhammad Ali: Humanity's Champion

Lessons St. Louis needs to learn from losing the Rams

The City of St. Louis has been in decline and denial for quite some time. If we don't make some changes, we soon may no longer be considered a world class city.

Even if you don't consider St. Louis to be a world class city, with the exception of a subway, you must admit that St. Louis has many of the things that make cities world class.

  • Major league sports franchises
  • Tourism destination
  • World Class Zoo
  • Forest Park (75th on the list of City Parks)
  • World Class Museums and Libraries
  • Great Universities
  • Great architecture
  • World Class Hospitals
  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Nationally known monument (Arch)

World class cities are also known for their modern skylines, locations that cater to wealthy locals and affluent visitors and an absence of visible signs of poverty. St. Louis fails the visibility of poverty test.

City leaders pursue this “world-class” vision to attract investment, for integration into the global economy, and to improve the quality of living standards. Too often, however, those benefits accrue only to the wealthiest and most powerful residents.

St. Louis is a city that seems aggressive and inhospitable to some of it's minority and low income residents and many would flee if offered half a chance to relocate elsewhere. St. Louis is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country and even before the Ferguson Protest had a racist reputation.

Many people don't realize or have forgotten that Missouri typically is categorized as both a Midwestern and a southern state. The region was split on Union and Confederate issues during the Civil War. A small region of the state is called Little Dixie for the influx of southerners that settled there.

In 1847, a book titled, "The Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave", was published. Below is a quote from that book.

"Though slavery is thought, by some, to be mild in Missouri, when compared with the cotton, sugar and rice growing states, yet no part of our slave-holding country is more noted for the barbarity of its inhabitants than St. Louis."

During the decades after the Civil War, St. Louis grew to become the nation's fourth largest city, after New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. It also experienced rapid infrastructure and transportation development and the growth of heavy industry.

The period culminated with the 1904 World's Fair and Summer Olympics, which were held concurrently in St. Louis. As of 2014, St. Louis has dropped to 60 on the U.S. Census largest cities list. New York is still number one, Chicago is the still number three and Philadelphia dropped only slightly to number five.

The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members. This is not a new concept, it has existed at least since biblical times; "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me" – Matthew 25:40.

The Ram's departure leaves a huge pile of unpaid debt on the old dome stadium. According to the the St. Louis Post, the city said it expected to lose about $4.2 million a year, at least in the “short run,” as tax revenue falls because of the team’s departure. The Riverfront Stadium Task Force has spent $16 million so far on planning for a new stadium.

While the City was actively offering welfare to a billionaire and spending millions in taxpayer money putting together a stadium plan for Stan Kroenke, the Ram's owner, who neither asked for it nor wanted it; they were vigorously fighting to close down a homeless shelter that actually provides services and cares for "the least of these."

I'm only fifty years old, but while I was growing up, it was common knowledge that you didn't go into certain neighborhoods. I was in high school between 1979 and 1983. During that time, there were not a lot of places that welcomed black kids. On the weekends, many of us hung out in Forest Park, but then the rules were changed and we were forced out. Another popular hangout was the St. Louis Riverfront, which then had the nation's only floating McDonald's; but again the rules were changed and eventually the McDonald's Boat located to another city.

I see that same pattern repeated again, mall and other areas now have special curfews and other restrictions that often seem to be enforced more rigorously against black kids.

Surprisingly with institutions such as St. Louis University, Washington University, UMSL, Harris-Stowe University, St. Louis Community Colleges, Rankin Technical College, Webster University, Fontbonne University, Missouri Baptist University, St. Louis area is home to many poorly performing public schools.

How is it possible, with the number of institutions of higher learning in and around St. Louis, that our schools are not among the best in the country? In a word, exclusion.

Whether there was a concerted efforts such as those proposed by the Team Four Plan or unconscious bias, educational, economic and employment opportunities have routinely been suppressed and restricted in certain areas. Around the neighborhood where I live, street lights and traffic lights including the intersections of MLK at Sarah and MLK at Euclid have been non-functioning for years. It is now common knowledge that even our court system has been guilty of predatory practices targeting people of color.

Decreased educational, economic and other opportunities lead to oppression and exacerbate inequality. Oppression and inequality leads to crime, which eventually visits the oppressor. The communities of both the oppressed and oppressor are negatively affected. Outsiders see this, often more clearly than we do.

Our airport is no longer a hub for any major airline, companies have specifically told us they won't locate to St. Louis because our schools are below par, we don't stack up against other cities, decades ago we lost our basketball team (The Hawks) to Atlanta and we have now lost two football teams. To add insult to injury,  the Rams are returning to the city they previously left to come to St. Louis.

For decades, the St. Louis region neglected or excluded certain groups of people and for a while, other groups benefited. However, as was noted in an earlier post, what you quietly allow to happen to others, will eventually find its way back to you.

When you allow the oppression of a group of people, it opens the door for oppression of additional groups. The education of blacks was neglected, now the education of all Americans lag behind compared to the rest of the world. Drug users were vilified and criminalized when they were mostly black or brown, but whites are now the largest growing group of drug addicts.

The economy of blacks was artificially suppressed for decades, now manufacturing and other high paying mostly white jobs are being sent overseas. The Congress has already pass legislation that will reduce some union pension by more than half and the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to deal unions a major setback again effecting mostly white workers.

As mentioned in the post, first they came, if you want to improve your own conditions, don't let the rights and privileges of others get abused. Even President Obama mentioned this during his last State of the Union speech last night. Hopefully St. Louis will finally heed this message and begin to help those truly in need rather than those truly in greed.

St. Louis Flooding and Stadium Projects

Welfare for millionaires and billionaires look ridiculous when the St. Louis area is experiencing record-setting flooding and the need for assistance is great.

Thousands of people in and around the St. Louis area will be affected by flooding. Many will lose their possessions and homes, others will be out of work and some businesses may closed down completely unable to reopen.

Public dollars should be reserved for public need! This is when public tax dollars are most needed, in emergency and catastrophic situations. However, since so much public money is tied up in pledges to private projects of millionaires and billionaires, many of those truly in need will find scarce resources available to them.

Levees are in danger of failing and I suspect some of them have not received the attention and allocation of public money they should have received because we were more concerned about providing subsidies to the rich.

To add insult to injury, the proposed stadium would be located even closer to the river, adding to future flood damages that will have to be paid for by tax payers.

Flooding affected almost every major artery into St. Louis; highways 44, 55 and 70 have been partially closed because of flooding. Even before flooding, MoDot had already expressed they didn't have the necessary funding to do required maintenance and repairs. Major roadways and highways will certainly be damaged by flood water adding additional repairs to MoDot's strained budget. SeeList of area roads closed due to high water

As I've stated previously, paying hundreds of millions of dollars for private projects for the rich do not make sense. Some ordinary hard-working people will lose everything they own and unfortunately many of them will discover that there are no available public funds to assist them; because we have committed so much to make certain that wealthy sport franchise owners get their share of public money through a reverse Robin Hood tax scheme.

I wonder if the governor, legislators and aldermen who fought so hard for stadium financing will fight as hard to find public money to assist those the ordinary people, that elected them into office, who are affected by the flood.

I suspect that low-interest loans that must be paid back will be available, but many flood victims will not receive the same sort of non-repayable subsidies that is proposed to be given to the wealthy.