Tag Archives: sports

Remembering: NASCAR’s First Black Driver And Hall Of Famer

There are millions of NASCAR fans all over the world but do you know that the first NASCAR driver was Wendell Oliver Scott from Danville, Virginia. History has recorded Scott as the only black driver to win a race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. He could be compared to Jackie Robinson in the sense that he broke the color barrier in Southern stock car racing. The memorable day occurred on May 23, 1952, at the Danville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Scott gained experience and winning some local races at various Virginia tracks before becoming the first African-American to obtain a NASCAR racing license. It is unclear when the license was issued in 1953, although NASCAR does not have the exact date. As you can imagine, Scott’s career was repeatedly affected by racial prejudice and problems with top-level NASCAR officials. However, his determined struggle as an underdog won him thousands of white fans and many friends and admirers among his fellow racers.

It is said from the day was born he wanted to be his own boss. In Danville, two industries dominated the local economy: cotton mills and tobacco-processing plants. Scott vowed to avoid that sort of boss-dominated life. He once said, “The mill’s looked too much like a prison. You go in and they lock a gate behind you and you can’t get out until you’ve done your time”. From boyhood, Scott raced bicycles against white boys. In his neighborhood, he said, “I was the only black boy that had a bicycle.” He became a daredevil on roller skates, speeding down Danville’s steep hills on one skate.

He ran an auto-repair shop. As a sideline and for fun, he took up the dangerous, illegal pursuit of running moonshine whiskey. This trade gave quite a few early stock car racers their education in building fast cars and outrunning the police. The police caught Scott only once, in 1949. Sentenced to three years probation, he continued making his late-night whiskey runs. On weekends, he would go to the stock car races in Danville, sitting in the blacks-only section of the bleachers, and he would wish that he too could be racing on the speedway.

Scott was thirty years old at the approximate times when he was sitting in the bleachers of local speedways, watching white men race. Up to then, he had lived his whole life under the rigid rules of segregation. He could neither use a white bathroom or a white drinking fountain nor eat at a white restaurant. Nothing in his past had prepared him for the unusual, life-changing experience that was about to take place.

The Danville races were run by the Dixie Circuit, one of several regional racing organizations that competed with NASCAR during that era. Danville’s events always made less money than the Dixie Circuit’s races at other tracks. “We were a tobacco and textile town — people didn’t have the money to spend,” said Aubrey Ferrell, one of the organizers. The officials decided they would try an unusual, and unprecedented, promotional gimmick: They would recruit a Negro driver to compete against the “good ol’ boys.”

To their credit, they wanted a fast black driver, not just a fall guy to look foolish. They asked the Danville police who was the best Negro driver in town. The police recommended the moonshine runner whom they had chased many times and caught only once. Scott brought one of his whiskey-running cars to the next race, and Southern stock car racing gained its first black driver.

Some spectators booed him, and his car broke down during the race. But Scott realized immediately that he wanted a career as a driver. The next day, however, brought the first of many episodes of discrimination that would plague his racing career. Scott repaired his car and towed it to a NASCAR-sanctioned race in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But the NASCAR officials refused to let him compete. Black drivers were not allowed, they said. As he drove home, Scott recalled, “I had tears in my eyes.”

A few days later he went to another NASCAR event in High Point, North Carolina. Again, Scott said, the officials “just flat told me I couldn’t race. They told me I could let a white boy drive my car. I told ’em weren’t no damn white boy going to drive my car.” Scott decided to avoid NASCAR for the time being and race with the Dixie Circuit and at other non-NASCAR speedways. He won his first race at Lynchburg, Virginia, only twelve days into his racing career. It was just a short heat race in the amateur class, but for Scott, the victory was like a barb on a hook. He knew that he had found his calling.

He ran as many as five events a week, mostly at Virginia tracks. Some spectators would shout racial slurs, but many others began rooting for him. Some prejudiced drivers would wreck him deliberately. They “just hammered on Wendell,” former chief NASCAR photographer T. Taylor Warren said. “They figured he wasn’t going to retaliate.” And they were right–Scott felt that because of the racial atmosphere, he could not risk becoming involved in the fist-fights and dirty-driving paybacks that frequently took place among the white drivers.

Many other drivers, however, came to respect Scott. They saw his skills as a mechanic and driver, and they liked his quiet, uncomplaining manner. They saw him as someone similar to themselves, another hard-working blue-collar guy swept up in the adrenalin rush of racing, not somebody trying to make a racial point. “He was a racer — you could look at somebody and tell whether they were a racer or not,” said driver Rodney Ligon, who was also a moonshine runner. “Didn’t nobody send him [to the track] to represent his race — he come down because he wanted to drive a damn racecar.” Some white drivers became his close friends and also occasionally acted as his bodygards.

Some Southern newspapers began writing positive stories about Scott’s performance. He began the 1953 season on the northern Virginia circuit, for example, by winning a feature race in Staunton. Then he tied the Waynesboro qualifying record. A week later he won the Waynesboro feature, after placing first in his heat race and setting a new qualifying record. The Waynesboro News Virginian reported that Scott had become “recognized as one of the most popular drivers to appear here.” The Staunton News Leader said he “has been among the top drivers in every race here.”

In 1961, he moved up to the NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) division. In the 1963 season, he finished 15th in points, and on December 1 of that year, driving a Chevy Bel Air and won a race on the one-mile dirt track at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida becoming the first and to date only top level NASCAR event won by an African-American. Scott was not announced as the winner of the race at the time, presumably due to the racist culture of the time.

Ironically, the second-place driver, was initially declared the winner, but race officials discovered two hours later that Scott had not only won, but was two laps in front of the rest of the field. NASCAR awarded Scott the win two years later, but his family never actually received the trophy he had earned till 2010–37 years after the race, and 20 years after Scott had died.

He continued to be a competitive driver despite his low-budget operation through the rest of the 1960s. In 1964, Scott finished 12th in points despite missing several races. Over the next five years, Scott consistently finished in the top ten in the point standings. He finished 11th in points in 1965, was a career-high 6th in 1966, 10th in 1967, and finished 9th in both 1968 and 1969. His top year in winnings was 1969 when he won $47,451 ($300,723.94 in today’s money).

This is not unlike much of what the ghost of the greats had to endure but their sacrifice changed the sport and the world. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

(Resource: Wikipedia)

 


Still Looking For The Great White Hope

mayweather8They are at it again! Since Heavyweight Jack Johnson who was the best boxer in the world more than a hundred years ago; they have been and still searching for the GREAT WHITE HOPE! Last night’s sparring match was no different. The fight was far from professional and how did they give a man who has never had a professional boxing match a fight for some kind of championship?

After all the hype, all the talk, and all the profanity, it simply was unrealistic to believe McGregor, the UFC champion, could beat Mayweather in their pay-per-view showdown last night at the T-Mobile Arena. So no one should have been surprised when Mayweather methodically broke down McGregor before scoring a 10th-round technical knockout. Honestly, I don’t think Mayweather broke a sweat the entire fight!

So what did we learn from this exercise? Well, it was entertaining! The best boxer on the planet and the UFC superstar brought a lot of attention to their respective sports, and those who spent $100 on pay-per-view and thousands to witness the bout in person must not have remembered that there is a sucker born every day. Surely this was not the best boxing has to offer. I guess McGregor was just happy he was still standing at the end.

Mayweather, who scored his first knockout since 2011, looked a bit rusty early on after having not fought in two years. His boxing inexperience showed, especially late in the fight when he tried to clinch. By the end, his face was a sitting target. As a boxing fan, this was a disgrace to me. However, I am glad the black guy got a 100 million dollar payday! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Two Of A Kind

1024x1024Of all the things in the world – I never thought I would be quoting Don King but seeing today’s world he has a point – “Only in America”! I never thought I would see the racism and bigotry of my youth return but with the Trump era – it has returned. If I were to compare the two, ironically, 45 and con-man Don are the same probably why Don endorsed him. There is no doubt that both men have a dubious history at best (according to public accounts). However, they ascribe to the same moniker “Only in America”.

I won’t go so far as to say either Don see everything as racial or black and white. I will say they see everything as green. A con-artist sees capitalism as the way no matter who gets stepped on or in their way. It is all about cash and cash only! They will go anywhere and do anything for a buck.

The history books tell us about their despicable past and so do the boxers and people in the fight game. Don has robbed and taken advantage of every fighter he has been associated with – just think – he robbed Ali! He and the president have been sued by more people, probably, than anyone in history. So where else in the world could this happen but in America?

Not only did Don ripped off Ali but Tyson, Witherspoon and countless others and he made us think he was the greatest promoter on earth and 45 did the same to America. Corruption seemed to be the root of both of their business practices. Fact is to be involved in real estate and boxing one has to have mob affiliations but it is never spoken.

To both their credits, they can sell dreams like any good con-artist. They can pick your pockets, sell you a dream and make you thank them for it while picking your pockets! So I say only in America. They both should be called “the King of lies and naturally when things don’t work out; they both cry foul and become the victim! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


How Much Do You Support Colin Kaepernick

GUFJZwTHXUlOOuD-800x450-noPadMost of the black people I know have an opinion about everything Colin Kaepernick protest and now he is being blackballed. It all began because of what began on August 26, 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national slave anthem (National Anthem) before the 3rd preseason game of the upcoming 2016 NFL season.  Afterwards he made a bold statement:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Not since the great Muhammad Ali’s who refused to serve in the Vietnam War has any one made a conscious decision by an athlete taking such a direct stance highlighting the injustices of black  people; just like Ali, the reaction to Kaepernick’s stance has been met with passionate responses, often times divided by the color line. White people, of course, they are incensed!

I will proudly say, I am very proud of the man because he risked everything for what he believes and uses his money to backup that belief. Since his protest to a take a knee, he has donated millions to charity toward racial issues. Most of you would not give a homeless man a cup of coffee. However, it has caused many of the million dollar slaves, past and present, to have a mostly negative opinion on the matter – some shameless, I might add!

Best of all, Kaepernick’s protest made the conversation about “racial/police brutality” front-page for the large part of the NFL season, a feat never done before in its history. This is a good thing and most should support the issue of injustice. He made his decision without counsel of any of these people and was brave enough to stand by it. I remember what saw with Muhammad Ali; they stripped him of the championship title, did not allow him to box, and hurt his family. See what they do! End the end history proved that he was correct.

So the owners have black balled Colin. I see your post shared on all over social media. Is that the limit of your support? If that is so – all you are doing is talking loud and saying nothing! I can remember people, black people, did the same in Ali’s case; whisper amongst themselves and did nothing. Or I remember that black people dared not mention the name Malcolm X – let alone be in the same place with him.

If you are appalled by this, then show your power by boycotting the NFL until Kaepernick gets signed to a team or at least given a fair chance. This means to not watch any games, no social media comments about your favorite team before/during/after the games, don’t attend the stadiums, and don’t buy any merchandise which represents the league or your favorite team.

We also understand the purpose of Colin Kaepernick’s protest is FAR more important than any of the games you will ever watch. Simply put, if things stay the same for the way America — where “all men are created equal” — treats people of color, then your loved ones, friends, and children will eventually be affected as well.

Finally, all of us must remember that the NFL never wanted black people to play the game. The Colin Kaepernick situation really shines a light on how much the NFL really cares about the 90% of its Black athletes and you! So if you are not contributing to the problem – shut up! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Greatest Pitcher Never Known

I was listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show and I must say it is a great source of empowerment for our community – thank you Mr. Joyner and the crew. He has a thing once a week called the Little Known Black History Fact. This particular fact got my attention because I am a huge fan of the players who have been virtually erased from the book of history or at least His-Story.

Sure we know Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige but that is about the extent of our knowledge of a game African Americans championed. We this story was about the man referred to as “The Greatest Pitcher Never Known” and his name was Will “Cannonball” Jackman. Jackman joined the Boston Colored Giants in the 1924-1925 season and played ball until he was well into his sixties. He won more than half of the 1,200 games he pitched over 20 years, with nearly 800 strikeouts and more than 40 shutouts. His record was 52 and 2.

Sometimes nicknamed the “Satchel Paige of New England,” it was reported that Will Jackman earned $175 a game and $10 per strikeout. But later in his career, he reportedly received $500-$800 for playing against white semi-pro teams in the exhibition games. This was only a portion of what the white players received, but on the high end for most black players. Jackman’s worth, however, was said to be more than the combination of several white players; New York Giants coach John McGraw was recorded saying he would “pay $50,000 to the man who could make Jackman white.”

The actual date of his birth was stated between 1897 or 1899 in Carta, Texas. He may have found his love of baseball while watching the nearby spring training camp of the New York Giants in San Antonio. Jackman started playing with the Houston Black Buffalos, drifting to Maryland and New York before actually joining the Boston Colored Giants in 1925.

Although he was payed for his crowd-appealing pitches, Will Jackman took a side job as a chaffuer to send money to his family, keeping his job during the off seasons and well into retirement.

The Negro League pitcher left a trail of strikeouts while playing with teams in Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Throughout his career, Will Jackman went on to play for the Philadelphia Giants, the Philadelphia Tigers, the Brooklyn Eagles, the Newark Eagles, and the Boston Royal Giants. In the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier’s player-voted poll of the “all-time great Negro League players,” Will Jackman was voted number one.

When the Boston Red Sox were scouting for African-American players to finally join their roster in the 1950’s, they looked to Will “Cannonball” Jackman for guidance and recruiting.

Will “Cannonball” Jackman died on September 8, 1972 surrounded by friends and family. In his honor, the Cannonball Foundation, an organization that promotes baseball play among youth in low-income urban communities, was formed.

This was, I thought, an amazing story of one of the greatest to ever play the game and because he received no acclaim I want to say I honor you, and thank you. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Source: The Little Known Black History Fact
TJMS

http://johntwills.com


Some People Just Don’t Understand

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nThere are two schools of thought when it comes to matters of race. By that, I mean those who benefitted from such institutions of racial degradation, past and present, and those who are subjected to it. Institutions such as slavery, Jim Crow, and other forms of segregation, for example, will say “why don’t you people forget it”! All the while other folk cling to what they call their heritage; i.e. the holocaust and the rebel flag. I have never heard any of these folk say anything that would suggest that they have forgotten any of those horrible crimes inflicted on them or things that happened to them. The more disturbing fact is that they or the system has brainwashed many black people into agreeing with their point of view. Case in point, the million dollar slaves of today. In the following video clip, it is explained perfectly. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembing Jackie Robinson: The Magic of #42

1aThere are moments in time where time itself demands change. There was one such moment in the Spring of 1947 when an African American baseball player named Jackie Robinson stepped up to the plate and changed the face of sports. It is an honor for me to pay homage to Mr. Robinson whose character, stature, and integrity was beyond reproach.

Born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in the so-called major leagues in more than fifty years. Throughout his decade-long career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he made advancements for the cause of civil rights for black athletes. In 1955, he helped the Dodgers win the World Series. He retired in 1957, with a career batting average of .311.

Now, as is often the case with “His-Story”, much of what we know about history is a myth. Let me use one of my favorite quotes from the prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire, who said: “History is a pack of trick we play upon the dead.” What I mean by that is this dynamic historical event actually was as simple as a black man being allowed to play a game with white people as a result of the rigid “Jim Crow” laws mandated by the law of the land.

At the time sports, as well as everywhere south of Canada was segregated. African Americans and whites played in separate leagues with Robinson, who played in the famed Negro Leagues. Robinson was chosen by Branch Rickey, a vice president with the Brooklyn Dodgers, to help integrate major league baseball. He joined the all-white Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1945. He moved to Florida in 1946 to begin spring training with the Royals and played his first game on March 17 of that same year.

His-Story tells us that Branch Rickey did this out of good conscience and for the cause of civil rights. Well, that is not exactly true. Rickey saw an opportunity to make money. The Negro league was prospering, and the white league was barely surviving. He knew if he could convince one Negro player to play for him, the others would follow, and they did. Hence, the Negro league ceased to exist. It is important to note that Robinson was not the best player in the Negro League. He was an average player but better than all of the white players playing in the white league at the time.

It is not my intention to neither demean nor take away from the significance of the huge step toward equality. Despite the racial abuse, particularly at away games, Robinson character prevailed as he endured the most brutal harassment, threats, and derogatory language hurled at him on and off the field. It is because of his superb character that we should celebrate this great man.

Jackie Robinson succeeded in putting the prejudice and racial strife aside and showed everyone what a talented player he was. In his first year, he hit 12 home runs and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant. That year, Robinson led the National League in stolen bases and was selected as Rookie of the Year. He continued to wow fans and critics alike with impressive feats, such as an outstanding .342 batting average during the 1949 season. He led in stolen bases that year and earned the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Robinson also became a vocal champion for African-American athletes, civil rights, and other social and political causes. In July 1949, he testified on discrimination before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1952, he publicly called out the Yankees as a racist organization for not having broken the color barrier five years after he began playing with the Dodgers.

In his decade-long career with the Dodgers, Robinson, and his team won the National League pennant several times. Finally, in 1955, he helped them achieve the ultimate victory: the World Series. After failing before in four other series match-ups; the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees. He helped the team win one more National League pennant the following season and was then traded to the New York Giants. Jackie Robinson retired shortly after the trade, on January 5, 1957, with an impressive career batting average of .311.

Let me close with what really happened that day – number 42 was just a number until Mr. Jackie Robinson wore it! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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