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George Curry

A Better Way to Compensate College Athletes

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(NNPA) Athletes at Northwestern University shocked the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of college sports, by taking steps to unionize student/athletes. Surprisingly, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, former NFL great Jim Brown and Harry Edwards, who organized a human rights protest at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that culminated in Tommy Smith and John Carlos giving a clenched fist salute when they mounted the winners platform, do not support the idea.

It’s not that Bill Russell, Jim Brown or Harry Edwards have mellowed – they have not. Rather, they think there’s a better way to help athletes who generate $500 billion a year to major universities, athletic vendors and others.

“I am totally against the unions in college,” Brown said. “I don’t like the NCAA. I think it’s a greedy organization, a dictatorial organization, an organization that’s totally unfair to the players…But on the other hand, I think we have all gotten away from the value of an education.”

Russell and Brown made their comments recently as part of a sports panel moderated by Edwards at the University of Texas. The discussion was part of 3-day summit at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Russell said the NCAA’s money machine should be viewed within the context of other successful U.S. businesses.

“All great fortunes are amassed on cheap or slave labor,” he explained. “The NCAA – the one group everybody is focusing on – has this money machine. To keep it this way, the labor force has to be free or paid low wages.”

As Everett Glenn, a former sports agent, pointed out in a 3-part series for the NNPA News Service: “College sports is big business – for everyone except the athletes who make it possible. College basketball and football have long operated as quasi-farm systems for professional teams by discovering talent, training players, and highlighting performance.”

For example, Glenn noted, “Black athletes represent 52.9 percent of Ohio State University’s basketball and football rosters and dominate among its star players, fueling a nearly $130 million athletic department budget on a campus where Black males represent only 2.7 percent of the student body. The disparity between the graduation rate for OSU’s Black football players, at 38 percent, and all student-athletes, at 71 percent, represent the highest disparity in the Big-10.”

If colleges are serving as farm teams for the pros, players are spending less and less time on the farm.

This year, for example, Kentucky freshmen basketball stars Julius Randle and James Young have announced that they will enter the 2014 NBA draft. It’s one-and-done for the Wildcats. Randle is projected to be among the top five picks, which means he may earn $6.1 to $7.5 million over two years.

But many pro athletes have received a truckload of money, only to squander it. Terrell Owens, Allen Iverson, Antoine Walker are just a few who come to mind.

Sports Illustrated reported that by the time former NFL players have been retired for two years, 78 percent of them “have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.” Within five years of retirement, approximately 60 percent of former NBA players are broke. Athletes have to cope with other issues as well, said Harry Edwards

“Fifteen percent of the athletes who show up for the combine having already been in concussion situations before they even get to the NFL – and concussions are not something that you get over. That’s something the unions can’t address.”

Instead of unions, Edwards said, the emphasis should be put on making sure athletes get an education so that even if they end up broke, they will have other skills with which to support themselves.

“When we talk about young students, I think there are other considerations that take priority over the monetary aspect,” Edwards told me after a press conference in Austin, Texas. “Money shifts the focus even more than already is the case and away from the education imperative that these institutions are obligated and should be committed to delivering on.”

Edwards said rather than rushing into the pros. Student/athletes should have scholarships that allow them to complete college within six years. For those who complete their education in four years, they should be given another two years for graduate study.

“Ninety-eight percent of athletes who play college football will never be on a professional roster,” Edwards explained. “They are going to have to go with what they achieve educationally.”

He should know. Edwards has a Ph.D in sociology from Cornell University and has been a longtime professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

The Question No One is Asking Donald Sterling

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Why would a White racist have sex with a person of color?

That’s the question that few people in the media want to raise, let alone address. But it is an age-old contradiction not limited to Donald Sterling, the hate spewing soon-to-be former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Beginning with slavery in the original colonies – even earlier in Africa with the arrival of European colonizers – White men have forced themselves on Black women. Caucasian men from Thomas Jefferson on the left to South Carolina Senator and longtime arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond on the right have projected one image in public while having sex – even children – with Black women under the cover of darkness. They were talking White (superiority ) while sleeping Black.

I don’t for a moment pretend to know how to explain this obvious contraction. But in the case of Thomas Jefferson, the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, contradictions became a way of life long before he bedded and had children with Sally Hemings, a Black woman.

Jefferson will forever be inextricably linked to these words in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

At the time our Founding Fathers were proclaiming unalienable rights from God, most of them were enslaving God’s dark-skin creations. Jefferson enslaved nearly 200 African Americans.

As Columbia University history professor Eric Foner wrote, “Slaves, of course, experienced the institution of politics and law quite differently from white Americans. Before the law, slaves were property who had virtually no legal rights. They could be bought, sold, leased and seized to satisfy an owner’s debt, their family ties had no legal standing, and they could not leave the plantation or hold meetings without permission from their owner.”

And White owners did not need anyone’s permission to violate Black women.

Jefferson began having sex with Sally Hemings, one of his domestic servants, when she was a teenager. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation acknowledges that it “and most historians believe that, years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson’s records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison and Eston Hemings.”

South Carolina, like Virginia, had laws prohibiting both interracial marriage and intercourse between Blacks and Whites. If a free Black man had sex with a White woman in South Carolina during the Colonial period, he would automatically lose his freedom, according to Judge A. Leon Higginbothan, Jr.’s book, In the Matter of Color.

Years later, Strom Thurmond’s interracial dalliances would represent the height of hypocrisy.

Running for president in 1948 on the Dixiecrat ticket he said: “I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and accept the Negro into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.”

Fifty years ago, Thurmond led the filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, still the longest debate in Senate history.

Thurmond referred to Negroes as “nigras.” But while publically despising Blacks, he had a different attitude in the bedroom, impregnating his parents’16-year-old maid. The daughter of that encounter, Essie Washington-Williams, wrote in her autobiography, “As much as I wanted to belong to him, I never felt like a daughter, only an accident.”

Armstrong Williams, a Black conservative who began working Thurmond in 1978, recalled the senator confirming he was Washington-Williams’ biological father.

“The subject came up again while the senator and I were attending a South Carolina State football game in Orangeburg. He mentioned how he had arranged for Mrs. Williams to attend the college while he was governor…,” Williams wrote. “‘When a man brings a child in the world, he should take care of that child,’ he told me, and added, “‘She’ll never say anything and neither will you. Not while I’m alive.’”

And neither did – until after Thurmond’s death.

Considering the history of Thomas Jefferson and Strom Thurmond, no one should have been surprised when Donald Sterling told his mistress, who described herself has part Mexican and part Black:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?…You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games…

“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people…Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Donald Sterling, far from being a rarity, simply added another link to the long, scandalous U.S. history of hypocrisy.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Racist NBA Owner has Fouled Out

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New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to spend several days “investigating” the clearly racist remarks of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. There’s no need to waste a scintilla of another second on this foul-mouth bigot. Escort him to the closest exit and say good bye – for good.

Record fines or a long suspension won’t do in this case if – and that’s a big if – the NBA is serious about addressing raw racism in a sport dominated by African Americans. Sterling, 81, has fouled out with his own words and the decision to permanently throw him out of the game doesn’t require a huddle around the scorer’s table to review his odious behavior.

Unless you’ve been under a rock or just landed from mars, you should know by now that Sterling, who has a long and acrimonious history with people of color, exposed his true feelings about African Americans in a conversation with his mistress, Vanessa Stiviano, who is almost 50 years his junior. The conversation was apparently taped surreptitiously in Sterling’s home by Stiviano, who describes herself as part Mexican and part Black. A 9-mintute segment of the conversation was posted Saturday to celebrity website TMZ. A 15-minute excerpt was later posted by Deadspin.

There was this exchange in one segment:

V: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.

DS: Well then, if you don’t feel—don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.

V: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?

DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?

At one point, Sterling said:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?…”

“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games…”

“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Finally, there was the following exchange:

DS: You think I’m a racist, and wouldn’t—

V: I don’t think you’re a racist.

DS: Yes you do. Yes you do.

V: I think you, you—

DS: Evil heart.

DS: It’s the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.

V: So do you have to treat them like that too?

DS: The white Jews, there’s white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?

V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?

DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.

V: And is that right?

DS: It isn’t a question—we don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.

V: But shouldn’t we take a stand for what’s wrong? And be the change and the difference?

DS: I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too [unknown].

V: But you can change yourself.

DS: I don’t want to change. If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl—because I tried to do what you want. But you’re not that girl.

Sterling, 81, has a long history of antagonizing Blacks.

In 2009, he paid $2.7 million to settle a suit accusing him of discriminating against Blacks, Latinos and families with children at an apartment building he owned in Los Angeles.

In addition, NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, who spent 22 years with the Clippers, filed a suit against Sterling in 2009 for wrongful termination. According to the Los Angeles Times, “In his deposition, Baylor spoke about what he called Sterling’s ’plantation mentality,’ alleging the owner in the late 1990s rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: ‘Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.’ Baylor said he was shocked. ‘And he [Sterling] looked at me and said, ‘Do you think that’s a racist statement?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. That’s plantation mentality.’ ”

Donald Sterling is the Paula Deen of professional basketball. Accordingly, the NBA should stick a fork in him and tell him he’s done.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Memories of LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton

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(NNPA) Covering the three-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the University of Texas last week brought back a string of memories – some fond, some bitter. As a son of the South –Tuscaloosa, Ala., to be specific – I saw first-hand how the region was transformed from America’s version of apartheid to one that is perhaps more genuinely accepting of African Americans than any other geographical section of the country.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – all White Southerners who grew up in the Jim Crow South – played a significant role in the region’s transformation. But that didn’t happen in a vacuum. Each was pushed and challenged by the modern Civil Rights Movement, a multi-racial movement, with Blacks serving as chief architects that prodded the U.S. to have its deeds mirror its professed ideals. (George W. Bush, a wealthy Texan, is omitted from this discussion because he did nothing significant to advance civil rights. In fact, his appointment of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court represented a setback to the cause of civil rights.)

While Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); Whitney Young of the National Urban League; NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins; John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Roy Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) receive the lion’s share of publicity about the movement, the true heroes were the everyday men and women of the South who risked their jobs and lives to be treated as equals.

As a senior at Druid High School, I participated in the last leg of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. A group of us skipped school one day and went to Birmingham to protest the killing of the four little girls at 16th Street Baptist Church. And when we boycotted the segregated buses in my hometown, I borrowed Uncle Percy’s car and joined dozens of others who retraced the bus routes through our community, picking up people and giving them a free ride to their destination.

A few Alabama-born Whites took a principled stand for civil rights. Bill Shamblin and Bill Plott, editors of the Crimson White, the University of Alabama newspaper, were among the most memorable. They supported desegregation in the face of death threats. That took a lot of courage, especially in a city that was also home of Robert Shelton, the head of the Ku Klux Klan.

Neither LBJ, Carter nor Bill Clinton demonstrated that level of courage and commitment to civil rights in their youth. Yet, they, too, are sons of the South and though they grew up on the other side of the tracks, they carried a special sensitivity to race – some say guilt – with them to the White House. Of the three, Lyndon Johnson was by far the best. His signature legislation – the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 – forever changed America, particularly the South.

But Johnson didn’t start out as a progressive. As President Obama said of Johnson in his speech in Austin, Texas, “During his first 20 years in Congress, he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation ‘a farce and a sham.’”

But stepping into the Oval Office upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Johnson was able to rise above his past.

Unlike Johnson or Clinton, Jimmy Carter had a close relationship with African Americans growing up in Georgia.

“I grew up in a little village, unincorporated named Archery, Ga., just a few miles west of Plains,” Carter recounted. “…We were surrounded by 55 other families who were African American. All of my playmates, all of my companions in the field – the ones I hunted with, fished with, wrestled with, fought with – were Black people,” Carter said in his speech.

He explained, “I learned to appreciate, you might say, Black culture. When I wrote a book called Hours Before Daylight, at the end of the book, I tried to think of five people other than my parents who had shaped my life and only two of those five were White.”

Bill Clinton was a good president but was probably the most overrated of the three Southerners. When looking at permanent cabinet positions, he appointed more Black cabinet members than Barack Obama, he was a firm supporter of affirmative action and appointed two liberals to the Supreme Court – Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. But he also was part of the successful movement to shift the Democratic Party to the right and signed into law a regressive welfare reform measure.

Last week’s summit at the University of Texas celebrated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It could have also been a celebration of three Southern-born presidents who managed to overcome the rampant discrimination of their youth.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Black Press Critic Clint Wilson Needs a 'Reality Check'

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (NNPA) – Howard University Journalism Professor Clint C. Wilson II’s broad criticism of the Black Press proves that he needs a “reality check,” said Ben Chavis, leader of a group of 1970s activists known as the Wilmington Ten.

“There’s a distinguished journalism professor in Washington,” Chavis said, referring to Wilson. “He recently said that none of his students read the Black newspapers. Well, I am saying, ‘What kind of teacher are you?’ It isn’t the students’ fault. That Negro needs a reality check.”

The former executive director of the NAACP made his comments at a dinner here Saturday night following the premier of “Wilmington Ten: Pardons of Innocence,” a documentary co-produced by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and North Carolina journalist Cash Michaels. Former Gov. Beverly Perdue and NAACP State President William J. Barber, II were honored at the dinner.

Chavis was reacting to a column by media critic Richard Prince that was redistributed by The Root, the Black-oriented website created by the Washington Post.

“One devastating piece of circumstantial evidence of the waning influence of the Black press is the response I have received from journalism students in my virtually all Black Howard University classes over the past decade,” Prince quotes from Wilson’s self-published book on the Black Press. “When asked whether they have either read – or have knowledge of – a Black newspaper in their home communities only about 20 per cent say they have. Among those who are aware of the papers, almost none say they read them with any regularity. Let me emphasize, these are journalism students…”

Wilson evidently failed to ask a follow-up question even a first-semester journalism student at Howard University would have been expected to ask: How many of those students in his unscientific study read White-owned newspapers with any regularity?

Studies by the Pew Research Center and others show that newspaper readership has been declining for more than a decade, especially among young people. So, declining readership is an industry-wide problem, not one limited to the Black Press, the studies show.

Chavis credits the NNPA for leading a successful 2-year campaign that resulted in the Wilmington 10 receiving pardons of innocence Dec. 31, 2012 from outgoing Gov. Beverly Perdue 40 years after their unfair convictions.

Chavis and nine others were arrested and convicted on an array of charges connected to the firebombing of a White-owned grocery store amid violent White resistance to local school desegregation. Most of the defendants received a 29-year sentence, with Chavis receiving 34 years, the longest sentence. Citing prosecutorial misconduct, an appeals court reversed the convictions. Yet, the Wilmington Ten never received pardons until the NNPA launched a national campaign with member newspapers carrying numerous front-page stories on the injustice, most of them written by Cash Michaels.

Addressing an NNPA convention in 2013 shortly after the pardons were issued, Chavis said, “If it were not for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, your leadership, I doubt if we would be here today.” He also said, “I guarantee you that there’s no other organization of journalists that could have pulled off what you just pulled off.”

In his speech Saturday night, Chavis said, “We need the Black Press. The Black Press helps us affirm what we need to be about every day, every week.”

Chavis continued, “What I like about the Black Press is that it doesn’t put us in a straightjacket. The mainstream press is always trying to put us in a straightjacket…There are some in high places now that are questioning the power of the Black Press. I am going to be very honest: some of the people now questioning the Black Press are some of us.”

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, an African American, also ridiculed the notion that the Black Press is no longer needed today.

“Yes, the Black Press is relevant for the work that you do,” she said. “You are also relevant for the way you teach, for the perspective that you offer and the reality that you help explain.”

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