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Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Making of a Champion

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2009 at 9:44 am

Marneshia shoots over LSU's Erica White. Courtesy of http://daylife.com

Balancing athletics and academics is no simple task. Becoming a Rhodes Scholar in the process, hmmp…but Myron Rolle took on that challenge, and won. When you come from one of the poorest counties in the state of Mississippi; when you play basketball at a small high school, perhaps you hope to get a scholarship just to ride the bench (at least I did). But for Marneshia Richard, senior guard of the Mississippi State women’s basketball team, receiving a scholarship to just sit on the bench was not an option–she worked hard to achieve on the court, to become a starter in the SEC, she has a can-do attitude, and an uncanny knack for motivating others. Did I mention that she also received a degree in civil engineering??? And is now working on a master’s degree! She may not be a Rhodes Scholar, but she’s the epitome of student-athlete, and she’s not alone.

We cheer for them on the court or field, and although we know they are student-athletes, we may not hear about classroom performance until eligibility is in question, and then we fans become overly concerned. So for the Myron Rolle’s and Marneshia Richard’s of the world, this is to you. We appreciate your dedication and pursuit for excellence both on and off the court. We appreciate the memorable moments on the court, and appreciate the effort that is required to be more than that game winning shot on the court. You are a champion in every sense of the word.

Personal note: After sitting out last season with a knee injury, Richard came back stronger and faster, and now another season ending injury. I’m not sure if Richard will apply for a medical redshirt, however, I do know that she is a champion–an individual who looks for and finds the silver lining in that proverbial cloud. And it is because of this attitude along with her dedication and work ethic that Richard will be successful in any arena of life.

Who’s on Your Blind Side?

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2009 at 6:00 am

What a weekend–Ku Klux Klan marched before the LSU game, an exciting University of Mississippi victory over the LSU Tigers, the debut of The Blind Side, a film of former University of Mississippi standout and current Baltimore Raven right tackle Michael Oher’s life.

Oher’s white adoptive parents, the Tuohy’s connection to the University of Mississippi runs deep, with Sean being a former basketball player and Leigh Anne a former cheerleader. There were and are many who question the wealthy southern family’s interest in the inner city African American youth, nonetheless, Michael’s journey off the streets of Memphis and out of foster homes is largely due to the Tuohy’s generosity. For this weekend, where Mississippi’s unsettling racial past unearthed again, at least Michael Oher remains a fixture, a fixture who continues to guard, protect, and promote a lasting positive image of the university.

Thrills and Chills

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2009 at 9:49 am

Football is the first cousin to religion in some places. It’s Saturday and Sunday. It’s rivalries that may divide homes. It’s also a violent sport–car crashes until the final seconds tick off the clock. On Sunday Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook suffered his second concussion in less than a month. Westbrook is rumored by Yahoo Sports to be done for the year. Westbrook is 30. Click here to read more on Westbrook.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testified before Congress in late October about the NFL’s stance on whether the league is taking proper preventative measures to reduce players’ risks for head injuries. According to a Sports Illustrated article, “NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did not acknowledge a connection between head injuries on the football field and later brain diseases while defending the league’s policies on concussions before Congress.” In January of this year, former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson interviewed with CNN and revealed that he has suffered more than a 100 concussions in his career. The Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine (CSTE) is now conducting posthumous tests of former football players to examine whether there’s a connection between head injuries and permanent brain damage. To read more about the study’s findings, click here.

With hits coming harder, faster, and from virtually any angle, the NFL and all of football must come up with a way to prevent the impact these injuries have on athletes after their football careers. The chills and thrills are what we want. We give the oohs and ahhs, yet they do come at a high price.

C-O-N-S-O-L-I-D-A-T-I-O-N

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2009 at 9:03 am

Yesterday, Governor Barbour released his much anticipated budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, to which controversy quickly followed the announcement of it. The controversy–more budget cuts. But this time, it is the dreaded word that all hate to hear around budget time: consolidation. The plan: consolidate higher education. The state of Mississippi funds 8 public universities: Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, Mississippi University for Women, Delta State University, Mississippi Valley State University, University of Southern Mississippi, Jackson State University, and Alcorn State University. Under the Governor’s plan: Mississippi University for Women would merge or be consolidated with Mississippi State, and the states three HBCUs would become one super-HBCU (consolidate Alcorn and Mississippi Valley with Jackson State).

To say the face of higher education would change is an understatement. This morning there are many questions, concerns, and what-ifs. Yet there’s one guarantee about the upcoming legislative session: it will be a struggle, a fight to preserve the future of these institutions and even education in Mississippi. Kelvin Buck of Holly Springs, Chairman of the House and Colleges Committee sees the proposed plan as limiting access to higher education. In a Clarion Ledger article, Buck stated “I would disagree with the governor or anyone who would suggest that closing universities or reducing access and opportunity to a variety of educational course options is the way to go. While this may appear to some to be the answer, it is my view that this method would serve as only a short-term approach and would do considerable damage to the state’s future long-term economic viability.”

“Some say we have a split personality”

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2009 at 9:54 am

In Houston, TX: It’s called The Gay Takeover. In Maine: Many are in it for the long haul. And the warring of words, opinions, and factions remain as issues with gay rights continue to fill the ballot box, the halls of legislatures, conversations, and even the White House.

In Houston, one of the candidates, city Controller Annise Parker faces a runoff election in December. What’s becoming more of an issue as the runoff approaches is her sexuality. According to the Houston Chronicle “A cluster of socially conservative Houstonians is planning a campaign to discourage voters from choosing City Controller Annise Parker in the December mayoral runoff because she is a lesbian, according to multiple ministers and conservatives involved in the effort.” In Maine, voters recently repealed a measure allowing same-sex marriage.

While many have compared gay rights movement to the civil rights movement for African Americans, many would like to draw the line before the pen starts to mark it. In 2004 Reverend Gregory Daniels, an African American minister made this point very clear when he said “If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them.” Click here to complete Village Voice article. In an October 2009 article for AOL Black Voices, Paul Shepard says “actually, some say we have a split personality when it comes to liberalism and gay rights.”

Shepard referenced a Pew Research Center study where 64 percent of African Americans think homosexuality is morally wrong, when compared to whites and Hispanics, only 48 percent and 43 percent, respectively, view it as morally wrong. The split personality, according to Shepard, shows that African Americans are not a “monolith,” yet the Pew findings should not be very surprising to anyone because “for nearly all black people, issues of racial equity are important. In the past, the Democratic Party has championed those issues more effectively than Republicans. But for many black people who were raised in a church-going environment, homosexuality and civil unions are against Biblical teachings. Therefore, it makes sense that a lot of black folks can accept the overall “liberal,” or Democratic, agenda and question or reject a part of it.”

To read the Pew Research Center report, click here.

To the Vets in My Life

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2009 at 5:00 am

I have special thanks to veterans today. I have been blessed to have some in my life. They have exhibited courage, honor, loyalty, and friendship. So John Whitfield, Robert Lee Bean, and Sgt. Driscoll–you all have exhibited leadership and dedication. And I thank you. But I would like to take this opportunity to especially thank Sgt. Frank Wills and Lt. Colonel Rashann Harris.

I came to know Frank through our graduate courses at Mississippi State. Instantly, you can tell he’s an intense individual. He’s passionate about the military, but most importantly, he’s passionate about life, justice, and liberty. He’s an Iraq War veteran, to which I have thanked him countless times for sacrificing self for strangers like me. Sgt. Wills was recently awarded a Pat Tillman scholarship. To read the Mississippi State press release, click here.

Lt. Colonel Rashann Harris. It’s rare that I’m speechless. But it’s rare when I’m around an individual as Harris. She’s an inspiration to me, to which, much like Sgt. Wills, I’ve been made the better for knowing her. You don’t have to be in her presence long to realize her drive and commitment to excellence. It is her drive and uncanny ability to pull that out of those around her that makes her stand apart. I’m sure Webster, when defining leader and leadership, had Lt. Colonel Harris in mind when writing it. Check out Mississippi State’s Bulldog Battalion and Lt. Colonel’s Command Principles.

Sgt. Wills and Lt. Colonel Harris bleed red, white, and blue. They both fight for justice and freedom. They both down play the significance of their sacrifice and service–so on this Veteran’s Day, I wanted to show my appreciation and gratitude for a job well done.

The Dream Team

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2009 at 8:58 am

If you were like me and wanted to see the Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey collaboration on the Sundance winning film “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” only to learn that it was not in a theater near you. The Perry/Winfrey partnership, better known as The Dream Team according to Ruthe Stein, formed to help director Lee Daniels’ Sundance winning film Precious according to Winfrey to “do whatever I can to help you. Let me volunteer to help you get the word out on your film”; or according to Perry, to introduce the film to a larger audience. This film has to be seen, and the Dream Team brought it to the general public.

Precious introduces us to an oft familiar story to many of us–poverty, teenaged parent, single mother–a tough environment that many of our children call home. Yet, there’s a story of resilience, of compassion, of finding oneself through the adversity, through the negative environment.

In only 18 theaters, the film has grossed an estimated $1.8 million.

The film is scheduled to make wider releases the remainder of November and December. To find a theater near you, click here .

Another Conservative Movement???

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2009 at 1:26 am

Today is election day; and all eyes intently focus on three states–with New Jersey and Virginia voters heading to the polls in governors’ races and New York holding a special election for a House seat. ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper describes the political scene: “With Democrats poised to lose the governor’s race in Virginia, and to possibly lose the governor’s race in New Jersey and a special election for a House seat in New York, the White House has started insisting any pending losses will not have any significance.”

The results of these elections will be a barometer to see, as Time Magazine suggests, “how Democrats and Republicans will fare in the 2010 midterms, and how much (or how little) Obama has changed the contours of American politics.” These seemingly quiet elections may set the table for things to come; with mid-term elections about a year away, are we on the verge of another conservative revolution, another contract; are we in for another 1994???

…To Be Continued…

The New South

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

At today’s Stennis-Capitol Press Luncheon in Jackson, MS, the University of Mississippi Chancellor Dr. Dan Jones reiterated his vision of leading the university as the state’s flagship liberal arts institution. He compared Mississippi’s potential to North Carolina, and its flagship liberal arts public university, the University of North Carolina, in charting a new course for that state.

As part of establishing the University of Mississippi as the flagship state institution, Chancellor Jones noted that the culture of the university must be one that is welcoming to all. The University recently abandoned the oft maligned use of “the South will rise again” chant at its football games. For Chancellor Jones, moving the state and the university forward requires a new vision, a new image, new traditions…