From left to right: H. Rap Brown, John Carlos, Harry Edwards and Stokley Carmichael
This Open Letter is in response to Dr. Harry Edwards after I emailed him about an interview relating to the American flag and NFL players. Dr. Edwards is the founder of “The 1968 Mexico City Olympic Project.” The project was made famous when American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists with a black glove to demonstrate against racial discrimination in America. That moment in American history has been revisited by former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick. Coincidence?
Really VERY busy right through here – we are 0-5 at the SF 49ERS, I am working with Nor Cal educators in fire-ravaged communities on the potential role of sports in helping kids and communities to heal and deal with the trauma , and of course there is the ongoing “4th Wave “ of Black athlete activism in response to police violence and other injustices. When you are REALLY busy, not a lot of time for conversation.
Let me address your “VERY busy” to make sure I understand your “VERY busy” and how it does not compare to my ‘VERY busy–except in dollars and sense.
Harry, you have done some wonderful things when comes to using athletics and community advocacy as a way to reach back to help your community, but you didn’t invent the wheel when it came to those two entities. For example: I have been “VERY busy” in the war zones of the inner-city since 1960 when my first job out of college was with the United Planning Organization as a Neighborhood Worker (community self-help). My co-workers were the legendary community advocates Petey Greene and H. Rap Brown. We walked the streets together for two years before Rap took over the leadership role with SNNC. Petey hung in there with UPO and I moved on to a new role as a Roving Leader with the DC Department of Parks & Recreation. I was assigned to its “Youth Gang Task Force.” This was years before you hit it big with the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Boycott.
When you teamed up with “The Great” Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers in 1987, I had already teamed up with the “Greater” Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics in 1974. My only regret with Red, I didn’t tell him that Maryland basketball player Len Bias was on drugs before he made him No. 1 in the NBA draft.
NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame because I was able to convince Red and Washington Times sports’ columnist Dick Heller to help me campaign for his 2003 induction. I also recruited James Brown, along with Celtic great Sam Jones, but James disappeared without a trace after asking me if I had checked in with Wizards’ owner Abe Polin. I reminded him, Abe was not my father and I didn’t work for him.
Harry, I appreciate you saying, “H-Your Inside Sports platform and archives should be given the broadest possible exposure and the discs of your program should be included in the new New Museum of African American History & Culture. There will be a wing dedicated to the struggle in sports and will be titled “Leveling the Playing Field.” Your work was a major force over the years in leveling the playing field, especially in terms of the struggle to define and project “our truth.” Great job over the years, great timing in reprising that legacy now.” I was honored and I am forever grateful just for the thought, but the only museum and hall of fame I am interested in being included in is God’s Hall of Fame and my chances of making his are slim and none. In the meantime, I am still defining and projecting “Our Truth”!
This thought brings me to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon as it relates to “Our truth” he does not have a clue, but he has plenty of company. I have tried to give Wilbon the benefit of the doubt as it has related to several lies he has told me. I understand “Courage” plays an important role when it comes to truth and there are far too many who lack courage to stand for something and not fall for just anything.
Wilbon, recently called the NFL a “Plantation” if you know Wilbon you would have to wonder where did he suddenly get the balls to allow the word plantation to come out of his mouth? His most passion plea relating to a black and white issue was when his Washington Post colleague John Feinstein called him “The biggest ass kisser in sports media” other than that silence as it relates to racism in media and sports has been ‘Golden’ to him. The ongoing struggle to sit or stand for the national anthem in the NFL is just the tip of the iceberg.
You along with then our Comrade in Arms, Jim Brown, pointed out on Inside Sports decades ago the plantation mentality and struggle of the black athlete started at the college level. You think Wilbon has finally caught up? The slave mentality is fresh and prevails, the thought of inmates running the prison is for real.
Speaking of plantations in pro sports MLB can go to the head of the class. Owners of America’s pastime have used minority ownership as a camouflage to hide the behind scenes racism on and off the field.
To learn more about the “war on words,” between Harold Bell and his good friend Dr. Harry Edwards, click here.