Mike Cope's blog

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The weekend before the Martin Luther King holiday was a fitting time to watch "Glory Road." It is, of course, a great sports movie. Josh, Chris, and I did all we could not to stand and yell for the guys from El Paso--even though we knew the outcome. Chris said he wanted to scream "he stepped out!" when Jo Jo White's heel went out of bounds. There is also the humor that we locals can appreciate when these young men are traveling through West Texas for the first time. One of them wants to borrow a quarter to call his mom so he can tell her he's the first black man on the moon. But the hard part is watching the horrible racism the team faced at home and as they traveled. There is a powerful scene where the black players are huddled together in a room trying to figure out whether Dr. King's way (of nonviolence) is the right way. I'm sure the vicious racism they received all over the country is accurate. Whether Coach Rupp's racism (as depicted in the movie) is accurate or not, I just don't know. I've read that in his forty years of coaching, he only recruited one African-American player to play at Kentucky and that was at the very end. But maybe all that means is that he missed an opportunity to be remembered as the guy who helped break the barrier. It's a good weekend to read again this essential speech from American history.


  • http://www.npr.org/news/specials/march40th/speeches.html

    Go to this site to listen to MLK, Jr's voice. When I taught 6 year old boys, I found that hearing his voice added tremendous impact to his words. It always amazed me how young children seemed to truly understand his message. When I found clips on the internet that would play excerpts of the "I Have a Dream" speech, the students would ask to listen to it over and over.

    By Blogger Kate, at 1/15/2006 06:42:00 AM  

  • Sam loved Glory Road and talked to me about the racial tension he had witnessed in the movie..that really got his attention.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/15/2006 09:08:00 AM  

  • I am proud to say I am from El Paso, and have followed Don Haskins and UTEP (what Texas Western is called now) Basketball my whole life. The things that is so funny to me is how Haskins has said countless time that he was just playing his best players. Whether they were black and white did not matter to him.

    By Blogger Chris, at 1/15/2006 03:35:00 PM  

  • Thanks for this post, Mike. Can't wait to see the movie.

    The racism was very real and, unfortunately, it still exists.

    I remember traveling across the South when I played football at Harding College in the late 1960s. Those of us who were white were forced to confront the reality of racism as we watched our black friends and teammates "invited" to leave various places simply because of the color of their skin.

    As whites, we were never asked to leave. Of course, we always joined our friends in walking out, but we felt terrible.

    I saw some of the same attitudes at Harding, just more subtle.

    We continue to witness it Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans--places where we are working. Again, the forces are more subtle, sophisticated and incidious. The systemic forces that cut against the poor are powerful.

    Let's keep up the fight of our faith. Thanks for your words and your heart.

    By Blogger Larry James, at 1/15/2006 04:10:00 PM  

  • Go watch the Fox Sports Network Road to Glory episode depicting the brutal racial violence that Jerry Levias and others experienced breaking the color barrier in football in the Southwest Conference in the 1960's. It was very real. To this day Levias (from SMU) still knows the white player from Alabama that spit in his face and, to this day, never apologized for it. According to Jerry the man is well known by many.

    By Blogger KentF, at 1/16/2006 05:58:00 AM  

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