A positive MLK Day turns ugly

About 20 years ago I gave a talk at a Detroit area high school about the impact Martin Luther King made on my life.

I watched students give a performance and one young man gave an inspiring “I have a Dream” speech. Afterwards a young mother approached. Her son was a running back and she thought he was good enough to get a scholarship at a small school. Did I know any coaches who would take a look at his tape?

** FILE ** In this Oct. 24, 1966 file photo, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is shown in Atlanta. (AP Photo/file)

The father had left the family. Money was tight and she fought the temptation of going on welfare. I told her I would make phone calls to some of my coaching friends in Michigan.

Dr. King wanted us to help others when we can and I wanted to follow his teachings.

I wrote about the experience and the initial response from the community was positive. Did the kid get a tryout? Who gave him a shot?

I do not know if he ever got a shot somewhere. He did get feelers from small schools and at least two had him visit campus and their football offices.

Then the emails and comments from the public took an ugly turn. They accused me of being racist. Would I do the same for a white kid? Why am I willing to help black people, but not white? I should stop viewing the world in black and white. I never mentioned the kids’ race. I didn’t think it was important.

I never understood the outrage, but I believe they saw the code words, Martin Luther King, running back, father leaving the family and welfare and made assumptions.

By the way, the kid was white. Not that it mattered.

By the way, the kid was white. Not that it matters.

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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

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