Coach Dale Brown gave this edited address at a recent Interrupting the Culture of Violence Meeting. His message is appropriate for the upcoming Martin Luther King Day.
We must have the courage to stand up for what we know is right and speak the truth. Far too many people prefer not to know the truth, because they just want reassurance that what they believe is the truth.
There are so many very loving and caring blacks and whites that constantly interact with each other as brothers and sisters. However, we seldom hear about these because the media accentuates the negative and diminishes the positive. Most people are unaware that the founding members of the NAACP in 1908 were made up of four blacks and four whites.
We must know all the facts before we can have a solution. These are the facts:
Fact 1: History. African-Americans have had to suffer through 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow, 60 years of separate but equal, and 35 years of racist housing policies. Until we recognize and understand the pain this has caused African-Americans, we can never be whole.
Fact 2: Fear. Many of my black friends from all over this nation have told me they fear the violent dysfunctional behavior that has made murder the number one cause of death for black males between 15 – 34. Sadly, 90 percent are killed by other black men. We must notify the police about these dangerous thugs. The only thing more powerful than fear is the boldness of faith.
Fact 3: Fathers. What helps to perpetuate the problems in the African-American community is that 75 percent of all births are out-of-wedlock. Nearly 70 percent of these children are growing up in single-parent households. A former NFL player bragged he has 11 children by seven different women. What a shameful and a lousy role model he became.
Fact 4: Education. Education is another major problem. Less than 50 percent of black males graduate from high school and 75 percent of all crimes are committed by high school dropouts.
Fact 5: Freedom. Martin Luther King said, “There is a danger that those of us who have been forced so long to stand amid the tragedy of oppression that we will become bitter. But if we become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns, then the new order that is emerging will be nothing but a duplication of the old order.”
Change can only happen through education, justice and unity. No emancipation proclamation, no civil rights bill can give us freedom. We will only be free when we reach down in the inner depths of our own being and sign our own emancipation proclamation.
Fact 6: Excuses. George Washington Carver grew up in a slave family and became an inventor and professor at Tuskegee University. He said, “90 percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” Benjamin Franklin supports that theory, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” You can never move from victim to victory until you eliminate all excuses and quit feeling sorry for yourself.
Fact 7: Evaluation. The four P’s – Prayer, Politicians, Police, and Prison – cannot solve these problems. Our system needs a total evaluation and overhaul.
Fact 8: Saviors. We have built the idea of saviors into our entire culture. We have learned to look to experts in every field, thus surrendering our own strength, demeaning our own ability and causing us not to act. If you are looking for a helping hand, look at the end of your own arm.
Fact 9: Conversations. Until blacks and whites reach out to each other and have an honest and candid discussion, nothing will change. Both sides must admit their flaws. Denzel Washington said, “If the father is not in the home, the boy will find a father in the streets.”
Fact 10: Teamwork. The world must learn to work together or it will not work at all. We are looking for theories and searching history for explanations on what makes a great organization. It is very simple. We all have to work together. The best potential for me has always been we.