On Florida, the Super Bowl, & Black History Month

I’m going to try to tie together a Florida vacation, the Super Bowl, and Black History Month in one (and 1/2) column(s).

When the opportunity to spend a week at a friend’s condo in Florida arose, I had mixed emotions. I knew Marilyn would love it, but I’m not much of a beach bum. The idea of sitting in the sun listening to the surf isn’t exactly my cup of tea. To pass the time I decided to take a book that Duane Carrell had loaned me several weeks ago.

The book, subtitled “How to Turn Good Men into Whiners Weenies and Wimps”, was written by Burgess Owens, a team mate of Duane’s when he played with the New York Jets in the 70s. Owens also played in Super Bowl XV with the Oakland Raiders, thus the Super Bowl connection.

Owens began his book by stating, “My life has been filled with many blessings, the most important of these being the family, race, country, and era that I was born into.” He then goes on to note that he was raised in the 1950s and 60s era of segregation, and that “For those who grew up in the Deep South, in the days of the KKK and Jim Crow segregation, pride in community was not founded on the embellishment of opportunities lost due to racism. Instead it was built on the highlighting of the great accomplishments achieved, in spite of the obstacles.” He then notes how all thirteen children in his mother’s household went on to experience “the American dream buffet, which included higher education, successful marriages, families, business ownerships or long job careers, church and community involvement, college education for their children, vacations, reunions, and lifetimes of added-value to their communities and their proud Kirby name.”

The primary focus of his book is then on how much of the black community has lost what it once had, and how policies and programs that have a stated goal of improving their lot in life have actually reduced many to a state of total dependency and hopelessness. He tells of successful black role models of the past, and quotes Booker T. Washington.

“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

Booker T. Washington died over a hundred years ago, but his statement still rings true. And while we do have a responsibility to care for those with legitimate needs, and come to the aid of those who are unable to defend themselves, what the Apostle Paul had to say to the Thessalonians nearly 2,000 years ago is perhaps the best answer for all concerned with inequities in society. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” (I Thessalonians 4:11-12)

God Bless, Rick

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