Race

Fort Lauderdale Pizza Hut Won’t Deliver Pizzas To Black Neighborhood At Night

What’s New With This Story: 

-A Fort Lauderdale Pizza Hut has a policy to not deliver pizzas to the Sistrunk Boulevard community after 7 PM. 

-Sistrunk Boulevard has historically been an African-American community. 

– A Pizza Hut manager told the Miami New Times that it was a “corporate policy.”  


Ordering pizza while black isn’t easy in one area of South Florida.

At a Fort Lauderdale Pizza Hut located at 1239 S. Federal Hwy, there is a policy to not deliver to a predominantly African-American part of the city after 7 PM.

The discovery was made by locally based journalist Adam Weinstein while he was standing inside the restaurant picking up a pizza.

Weinstein, who is the senior editor of the popular Task&Purpose website snapped two photos of a large notice next to a map of their delivery area declaring “we don’t deliver to northwest (D-4) after 7PM.”

The notice, which refers to Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk Boulevard community, was clearly visible to customers.

The Miami New Times called the Pizza Hut and asked a manager for an expiation for the policy.

Photo Credit: Adam Weinstein/ Twitter

The manager said that it was a “corporate policy.”

As the Miami New Times points out, Pizza Hut has a history of not delivering to black neighborhoods in Florida.

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Cover Photo: Adam Weinstein/ Twitter

Does Cultural Appropriation Really Even Matter?

Asking whether cultural appropriation matters or not is like asking if a fat kid loves cake… Of course!

But it’s such a taboo subject to talk about that people usually keep quiet about it.

Let’s start with a definition of cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is the exploitation or oppressive cooption of elements of one culture by members of another culture without permission.

Now that we got a working definition, let’s ask this question again: does cultural appropriation matter?

Yes, and especially in America.

This question sparked an interesting debate with my sorority sisters and me.

Some of them actually believed that cultural appropriation shouldn’t matter since everyone takes from everyone to make their culture unique.

However, the rest us believed it to be a bad characteristic of society that needs to be addressed.

We live in a country that was built on the backs of the oppressed.

Because of this, the melting pot that we are said to live in comes with double standards.

Many of these ‘new’ trends that appear in mainstream come from someone else’s culture.

Let’s talk hair.

Braids have been a part of the African American culture as a protective style to protect our natural hair from harsh weather conditions.

When worn by us, we are negatively stereotyped and ostracized by society.

Photo Credit: Alvaro Sasaki/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Yet if someone like Kim Kardashian wears it, then it is accepted by those same people that called it ugly and ghetto.

For anything to be magically accepted by mainstream America, you have to be of a fair complexion.

Let’s talk dances.

Breaking out of her Disney barrier, Miley Cyrus decided to twerk as part of her on stage performances.

Before then, this was only heard of in the black community as a form of dancing.

She often kept black women in her videos and performances as pieces.

Usually having some sing and some dance but objectifying the dancers to those equivalent to a sex toy.

But she isn’t the only one.

Shall we go on?

Let’s talk appearance.

Society is a monster.

From a young age, we are taught to hate ourselves, especially young minority girls.

As a black girl, I was often teased for my full lips, milk chocolate complexion, and my naturally curvy body.

Now that I’m older, the same things that I was being teased for are the same things that are being praised on others.

Let’s use the lovely Kardashians as the example.

Kim altered her body to have curves and an ass which she didn’t have naturally; Khloe got ass injections that are not proportionate to her body; and Kylie got lip injections that she swore wore not lip injections.

It seems like the features that many minorities have are favored on other women who are not in the minority.

Not convinced yet?

Let’s give it one more shot.

Cultural appropriation matters because it is a form of oppression.

Typically, the ones that are being oppressed are usually the ones that have a problem with this.

This is just another example of how white privilege works.

White people take something, give no credit for it, and claim it as their own and repeat the process.

White privilege and accountability don’t go together at all hence why we have cultural appropriation issues.

Minorities have given the false hope of ‘all man is created equal’, forgetting the fact this quote wasn’t meant to include everyone at the time it was first said.

So in turn, the foundation of this country has been built on the unequal stature of those who take from those who are defenseless.

And in the end, cultural appropriation does matter and needs to be recognized.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Alannah Giannino/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What It’s Like Being One Of The Only White Kids In A Predominately Black School

I have to confess.

I enthusiastically agreed to write this piece.

It seemed as if it would be easy to write about my life, a part that was as formative as it was unpredictable.

The truth is, I was completely at a loss for how to actually put into words my 7th and 8th grade years in Arlington, Texas.

At first, I thought I would tie in school choice.

I figured it’s a hot topic in our current political climate, and I have plenty of thoughts on the issue.

Then, I decided I would write it as if it were a platform; I’d persuade you to my side with tales from my childhood.

Instead, I’ve chosen to write you a letter.

This letter is addressed to all those who have ever feared the unknown, that have ever gone off of a preconception rather than waited for an actual personal experience, that have ever been proven right, that have ever been proven wrong, and that have ever realized that learning doesn’t stop just because you’re no longer in school.

This is for you.

My name is Bradley Pennington, and I was raised in the south as a white student in a black majority junior high.

At the time, I’m not sure this particular experience stood out as extraordinary to me, but it has come to mean a great deal.

I had no way of knowing, but the two years I spent at this school would have a lasting impact on me for years to come.

You see; an education does not consist of only the things you learn in the classroom, but also of the things you learn in the hallway, out on the parking lot, and on your walk home.

I learned innumerable lessons at this school, but I will stick to recounting three of the most valuable lessons.

The first lesson I learned was how to communicate, not only with people and about topics I was comfortable with, but also with strangers about topics that would often push me outside of my narrow view of the world and into a space where I could better learn and grow.

There’s something tremendously valuable about the coming together of multiple cultures.

There’s something equally valuable, if not slightly more chaotic, about the the coming together of multiple 14 year olds.

In any given day, I would be prompted to explain the way my family did things and hear the stories of how my classmates’ families conducted themselves.

It wasn’t the differences that stood out, but rather, the similarities.

Photo Credit: Charlie/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

And within those similarities, I learned about universal truths; the want of a child to make their parents proud, the need for familial love regardless of whether the need is met, and the pursuit of fulfillment in life.

It is through these basic needs, that my communication skills began to blossom.

I went from being shy and nervous, to knowing exactly where I could find a commonality with a stranger.

I was now blessed with the skill of conversation. I could talk to friends, enemies, strangers, adults, kids, and anyone in between because I had finally had my eyes open to something different and realized, that at our core, differences fade and we all end up desperately seeking the same things.

The second lesson I learned was that passion is the secret ingredient in the recipe of happiness.

I’ll be honest and say that my junior high wasn’t always the easiest place to learn.

The school served the highest priced homes in the city and the homeless shelters simultaneously.

I fell in the middle of that group and never knew either extreme intimately.

With the vastly different background of the students came behavior problems.

There were students who had to be concerned more with where their next meal would come from than the Pythagorean theorem.

Likewise, there were students whose entitlement stood in the way of their ability to learn those valuable lessons outside of the classroom; the social and emotional lessons.

Neither of these groups were truly responsible for their hindrances, but the burden nonetheless fell to the same people; the teachers.

And as I watched many of the teachers deal with the 16 hours outside of the classroom just as much as the 8 hours within the walls of the school building, I learned about putting your passion into action.

True happiness can only come from finding what you want to do and seeking it with a reckless abandon.

The teachers were stakeholders; they mentored, they educated, they loved, and they sacrificed.

Every day that I wake up, I pray that I can be half as passionate as them.

The last lesson is one more spiritual in nature.

I learned that fate, or God in my belief, puts us right where we need to be at any given moment.

Had my parents had another option, they may not have placed me at this particular junior high.

There were other, more prestigious junior highs in the city, and I was a young man that had an affinity for learning.

But had I not been there, I don’t know that my eyes would have ever been fully opened to the world around me.

I was challenged at this school.

The teachers didn’t care that some of their students walked in the door having all the resources in the world at their disposal while others walked in without a single pencil; they expected our best, consistently.

I was made to give up on making excuses because mine weren’t as good as some and any excuse I could think of had surely already been told before.

And ultimately, I learned that is our shared responsibility on this earth to do right by each other.

No one is going to make it through this life alone.

There is no use in cutting ourselves off from new opportunity and new friendship.

I was destined to be at that school because it would play a major role in who I would become.

Would I have learned these lessons at any other school?

I have no way of knowing that.

But I do know this: Diversity breeds intuitiveness, and intuitiveness leads to understanding.

Often times our world leaves us wishing people had more understanding for their fellow man.

I wish everyone could have an experience like I did.

Being the minority, even if it’s only for 8 hours a day, opens your eyes and allows you to see the world for what it is.

I treasure my days in junior high because they ultimately taught me about humanity.

So my advice to you is to reach out to someone you would have never thought about talking to before.

Make time for personal growth and learning.

The world can be your classroom and every person you encounter has the chance to be your teacher.

You’ll never know until you are far enough removed from a situation whether it was one that can transform you forever.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: justine warrington/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Steve Harvey And The “Emasculation of Asian Men”

We all know the stereotype.

We’re all familiar with the trope.

Asian men just aren’t “desirable.”

Our frames are too delicate.

Our mannerism aren’t “masculine.”

And of course, our penises are just too small.

All of these sentiments are well echoed in the entertainment industry.

Asian men are rarely cast in a leading role because who would want to watch a movie about an Asian guy?

More often than not, we’re relegated to a mere sidekick usually for a desirable, white protagonist.

But, it’s not just the entertainment industry that plays into this stereotype.

Steve Harvey, too, has reified this idea that Asian men just aren’t worth it with some racist “jokes” that he made this past January.

In sum, he stated, in reference to a 2002 book called How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men (which is a whole different can of worms in and of itself), that “there’s just no way someone could be attracted to Asian men” all while laughing uncontrollably.

Now, while Steve Harvey’s clearly racist remarks deserve to be rifled through with a fine-toothed comb (and has been), I want to focus not on his remarks, but the reaction of his remarks among Asian-American men who were rightfully offended by his words.

The most notable voice that comes to mind is an article written by Eddie Huang titled “Hey, Steve Harvey, Who Says I Might Not Steal Your Girl?.”

In the article, Huang goes in on Harvey and laments the real, hurtful idea that “women don’t want Asian men.”

Huang is a well-known restaurateur and chief who wrote a book about growing up as an Asian America. The book was later adapted into ABC’s hit tv show Fresh Off The Boat. 

Huang makes note of how marginalized people are not afforded the privilege of being whole, complex human beings and comments like the one that Harvey’s made remind Asian men of that.

Moreover, he touches on the “structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media… produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men… That’s why this Steve Harvey episode is so upsetting.”

Asian women (and all women for that matter) should not be viewed as things that can be “stolen” by men. Photo Credit: Shawn Perez/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

While I agree with Huang that we as a society need to drop the erroneous notion that Asian men are not worthy partners in any sense, I take issue with the way that Huang, and many other people who think like him, has decided to approach this problem.

First and foremost, the “Mr. Steal Your Girl” reference.

Why are we treating women as objects to be stolen in the first place?

Shouldn’t they have the privilege to be complex human beings?

Why are we approaching this topic from this specific angle?

Also, as an Asian-American man who is impacted by conversations about “Asian (e)masculinity,” I have grown quite tired of this whole mantra behind “masculinizing” Asian men.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree that the experiences of Asian men who feel emasculated by society and media ought to be validated.

However, why is masculinity the center of this conversation?

I feel that Asian men exist in all facets outside of feeling “emasculated” and their voices ought to be uplifted as well.

I identify as a feminine, queer Asian-American man, and I do not feel liberated by this rhetoric around “masculinization.”

How does an Asian-American man like me fight into this conversation?

If fighting against Asian emasculation means letting Asian men talk about “stealing” someone’s girl and other low-key misogynistic things while feeling like a “man” about it, then that is not something that I can get behind.

Huang himself has been criticized as someone who exhibits misogynistic language and attitudes and if battling Asian emasculation means advocating for his right to feel “manly” when he jokes with his friends about women, then I cannot stand with him.

Fair and accurate media representation of the Asian-American experience in all forms written by Asian-American folk is something that I can get behind.

But, this centering of masculinity as the end all, be all for representation and desirability of Asian men has got to stop.

This reminds me of the way that people tried to fight against Steve Harvey’s words on Twitter by retweeting photos of masculine presenting Asian men to prove that they thought Asian men were “desirable” and “attractive.”

But, the problem here isn’t that I want people to think that I’m hot.

The problem is that we as a society need to decolonize what we deem as attractive and why.

Furthermore, people like Eddie Huang (though well-intentioned, I’m sure) need to step back and think about who benefits from their advocacy for the Asian-American community, who is left out, and who is negatively affected by what we’re fighting for.

These are the conversations and dialogues that I feel need to be had, and emasculation can exit, stage left.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Oscars And The Politicization Of Everything

Critics and film journalists are expecting “La La Land” to walk away with Best Picture and Best Director tomorrow night at the Academy Awards.

Since the film premiered in Venice last fall, the film has been praised left and right for it’s charm, visual extravagance, passionate music, emotional impact, and joyous energy in an anxiety-ridden post-Trump America.

Now, on the eve of the Oscars, the film has somehow been bastardized into some sort of a win for Trump’s America.

There’s always a backlash. 

And it makes no sense.

“Moonlight”, a great film, is considered the movie that should win by many because of its powerful resonance in today’s times.

Although it’s a great thing for art to be analyzed, I feel the politicizing and tearing apart of nearly everything in our culture is getting out of hand.  

If you didn’t like “La La Land”, no problem.

To each his or her own.

Taste is subjective.

However, the idea that La La Land is racist or sexist is totally absurd and stupid.

As someone who is to the left politically, I think this is indicative of the shallow, hyper-political correctness that has permeated American culture.

It’s gone too far.

The series of clickbait articles about whether or not it is racist that Ryan Gosling’s character, as a white male, wants to save jazz is unbelievably stupid.

Yes, jazz originated as a black art form in New Orleans, where I’m from, but white people like jazz, too.

Shocking, right?

And many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time were white, and made major contributions to this type of music.

Photo Credit: PROThe Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Herbie Mann, Gerry Mulligan, just to name a few.

Gosling’s character is not a “white savior”.

He just has such an appreciation for traditional jazz, he wants to open up a club that honors it. 

I won’t even engage the articles that claim Gosling “mansplains” too much or that Emma Stone’s character isn’t enough of a feminist, because it’s just not worth it. 

Read More: Meet Daniela Núñez, The 23 Year Old Mexican Who Wants To Change The Way We Bury People

This year has seen an improvement in regards to diversity in film.

Films nominated for Oscars this year include “Moonlight”, “Fences”, “Hidden Figures”, “Loving”.

All of these films deal somehow with race in America.

Other documentaries nominated are “O.J. Made in America”, “13th”, and “I am Not Your Negro”.

These docs also deal with race issues in America, and one of them will win best documentary on Oscar night.

So what if “La La Land” has two white leads?

So what?

As Jerry Seinfeld puts it when speaking out against political-correctness in comedy: “People think it’s the census or something…this has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America?”

The same can be applied to film.

Does every race and ethnicity need to be present in every film?

Does every ethnic box need to be checked off when telling a story? 

Liberals needs to stop crying wolf.

Not everything is racist.

Not everything is sexist.

Use discernment.

Political correctness is diluting the impact of the equality movement that currently needs to be more powerful and dignified than ever. 

This is not to say that there is not a problem of diversity in Hollywood.

There is a well documented lack of minority directors and behind the scene staffers and that is a real systemic problem.

But while that is a problem, does that mean that we can’t enjoy anything until there is total parity?

“Moonlight” is a very good film, but should not be considered the better film simply because it is about identity politics.

This is “ideology trumping aesthetics”, as writer Bret Easton Ellis would call it.

This is the message of a movie, or what it portrays socio-politically, being held in higher regard than the actual craft of the filmmaking.

Just because a film has a good message or has political resonance doesn’t mean it’s a good film.

Luckily, “Moonlight” is also excellent, but that’s what it should be judged on.

The craft.

Giving the Best Picture Oscar to “Moonlight” to spite Trumpism shouldn’t be the goal here.

If it does win, that’s great, and I’d be happy.

But the message that the win would send to America is a byproduct, not the primary reason it should be voted for. 

This Oscars will be political.

Speech after speech will reference the Trump Presidency.

I reject Trump, didn’t vote for him, and agree with most liberal values.

But I also understand the disdain felt by working class Americans towards the liberal elite telling them what they should or shouldn’t believe.

There are issues and concerns related to jobs and trade that don’t effect many of those in Hollywood.

The fact of the matter is, none of the anti-Trump speeches given at the Oscars will have any effect.

None of it will make waves.

It is preaching to the choir.

Voters across the country make their political decisions based on the issues and concerns happening in their immediate environment.

What a celebrity says has no effect.

It is up to the left and political leaders to address those concerns, and change to course of this country.

Stop putting it on the movies.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

American Sailor Says He Had Gun Pulled On Him By Police, Told To “Check His Attitude”

Travis Bridges Jr. is an active duty sailor in the American Navy.

He’s based in Norfolk, VA and played football for Navy in college.

He’s a pretty straight-laced and squared away guy.

So that’s why many people are upset on social media after he posted a story about a run-in  he had with a police officer yesterday in Norfolk.

Here is his full post, which has since gone viral: (Emphasis added is our own)

“My license tag expired yesterday, my dad renewed it for me and took a photo of the information before putting it in the mail.. I was just pulled over for an expired tag, long story short, I had a gun drawn on me for reaching for my phone “in a swift manner” to show him the picture, after I clearly asked him twice if I can reach for it.

The encounter resulted in an hour search of my car while I was handcuffed because “I smell like Marijuana”…His supervisor let me go and thanked me for my compliance but told me to check my attitude because I did not feel comfortable answering all their questions.

I do not smoke, I was on the way home from work(which was on a Naval Warship), nothing in my car has been anywhere near weed since I got it in 09, and I’m clearly shaken that I had a gun about a foot away from my face.

I have all the officers information and the individuals involved will not get away with this, hopefully the Norfolk Police Department has higher standards than these individuals working for them. If anyone has any advice or wants to help, you are more than welcomed to contact me.”

RISE NEWS has reached out both to Bridges and the Norfolk Police Department for further information. We’ll update this story as we get more information. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Travis Bridges/ Facebook

Major Alabama Paper Thinks Obama Should Pardon Former Gov. Don Siegelman

The Anniston Star, one of Alabama’s largest newspapers has called for President Obama to free former Gov. Don Siegelman from federal prison.

Siegelman is currently serving a 78 month prison sentence for bribery, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice charges stemming from a controversial arrangement made during his term as governor in the early part of the century.

His case is a complicated one to be sure.

But for the sake of a summation, AL.com does a pretty good job:

Siegelman was convicted by a federal court in 2006, “after being accused of appointing former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a health planning board in return for a $500,000 donation to the governor’s campaign for a statewide lottery.”

Was it corruption or just politics?

Depending on which side of the political aisle you sat at the time would determine how you felt.

But with the Supreme Court overturning the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a somewhat similar case as Siegelman, some believe that Obama should take action for the sake of justice.

The Anniston Star is leading the charge.

In an editorial, the paper cited the oft whispered idea that Siegelman’s conviction was a politically driven witch hunt.

“There’s no undoing the years of legal harassment waged against Don Siegelman,” The Anniston Star wrote in their editorial last week. “This court ruling and its narrowed definition of public corruption are an opportunity for President Barack Obama to use his presidential powers to make the former Alabama governor a free man.”

A few years back, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Siegelman’s son Joe.

At the time, Joe Siegelman was a student at the University of Alabama School of Law and was all a father could ask for in a son.

He was steadfast in his father’s defense, taking little time to sip his Starbucks coffee as that would have taken away from his time to convince me.

Indeed, many in his family were willing to try to convince anyone, anywhere of their father’s innocence.

Imagine what that must be like.

Your family used to be on top of the state with nothing but promise ahead.

Then a combination of bad decisions, confusion and a broken justice system breaks your family apart, soiling your name.

We’ll probably never know if Don Siegelman is totally innocent of the crimes he has been convicted of.

But a few things are certain.

One is that the US Supreme Court doesn’t feel like those crimes are that important anymore. Just politics as usual they say.

And two, is that Don Siegelman has certainly lost enough of his life already.

He is currently in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison with another two and a half years to serve on his sentence.

Free him.

 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Mike D/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Acknowledging Our Built In Biases Can Make Us Stronger And More Tolerant

By Zac Head

My name is Zac,

I am not a person of color. I am not female. I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

I have not truly experienced poverty. I will likely never know what it is like to be a member of any of these groups.

I am a straight, white male, whose household income is significantly above the poverty line.

I grew up with happily married parents who were always very supportive of me.

I have broken laws, and been sent away from at least two encounters with law enforcement with “warnings”.

I have benefited from biases of others based on race, gender, social class, and sexuality.

I am privileged.

While I value all human life equally, recognize the sacred worth of every individual, and know that we are all God’s children, made in the image of God, and equally loved by God,

I have biases that affect the way I perceive people of color.

I have biases that affect the way I perceive females.

I have biases that affect the way I perceive people with different religious and political views than my own.

While these biases are most often subconscious, I am aware that they exist and that they cause damage in relationships and the lives of others.

My mind often feels threatened by those who are different than myself.

My mind often feels threatened by black masculinity.

I am aware of my biases and constantly fight against them.

I pray for deliverance from my biases.

Through prayer and conscious effort I have experienced deliverance from bias bit by bit, but if I am being honest I may never completely leave these biases behind.

All I can do is try each day to only see people for the children of God that they are.

Until we can acknowledge our biases we will continue to teach these biases to our children.

Until we can acknowledge our biases, it should be no surprise that those against whom we are biased will suffer.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, black men will continue to die from violence (with and without police involvement) at a higher rate than white men.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, little black boys will continue to grow up being told by the media that they are more likely to be violent than their white counterparts.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, we should not be surprised when this cycle continues.

I can never know what it feels like to be black, a woman, or someone who grew up in poverty.

All I can do is try my very best to listen to others who have those perspectives, acknowledge the worth of these perspectives and individuals, and live in such a way that teaches my daughter to move past biases while doing my very best to keep certain biases from forming in our household.

Today, I acknowledge my biases.

Today, I pray for deliverance (my own and that of our society) from these biases.

Today I am proud to see so many young people standing up for what Is right and am filled with hope for the future.

Forgive us, oh God of grace, for failing to see your image in one another.

‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬

Zac Head is a pastor at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church in Beaverton, AL. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Muhammad Ali And The History Of Public Courage In America

By Eric M. Harris

The most important date in Muhammad Ali’s life was April 28, 1967.

No this was not the date of one of his amazing bouts with the great “Smokin'” Joe Frazier, it was not the date of the “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman, it was not the day that he converted to Islam, nor the date he lit the Olympic Torch in Atlanta.

On this date, Muhammad Ali refused induction into the United States Army.

Muhammad Ali’s life is well chronicled.

He was born in Louisville in 1942.

He became a Gold Medal Winner in Boxing in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

He shocked the world in 1964 when he captured the world heavyweight boxing championship from Sonny Liston. His boxing career and life was off to a tremendous start.

Three short years later, his life took a drastic turn that showed courage on a level that has been unmatched by public figures in American history.

He was sentenced to the maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. He went into an unknown position of possibly not being able to box again all because he took a moral stand.

But he’s not the first to show massive amounts of public courage on the national stage.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first female with a medical degree in the United States. She was able to get medical books from a local reverend when he was a young woman.

She was met with “No’s” at almost every possible opportunity.

Many physicians suggested that she move from the United States to Paris, because she would have better opportunities.

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Blackwell studied in secret. In 1847, she was brought in to study medicine at Geneva Medical College. She was voted in unanimously by all male students at the college and became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln’s story is well known by most. He was the President during one of America’s most difficult times- the Civil War.

He had the courage to not only have the Union fight the Confederacy in the Civil War, but he also wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves.

Slavery had been an institution in this country for hundreds of years. It was the driving force for the economy in the South and made many southern plantation owners very wealthy.

Although many other elected officials and leaders said that slavery was wrong, he was the first to actually do what it took to end it.

Some have pointed out however, that Lincoln’s decision to free the slaves did not have as much to do with the actual freeing of the slaves, but more to do with keeping the Union together. Lincoln said so himself.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was another President during a challenging time in American history.

He was the president during the Great Depression and World War II. He was following in the foot steps of his distant cousin Teddy Roosevelt, who was one of the greatest presidents in our nation’s history.

Not to mention, he did all of this with a challenging disability, the disease of polio, which prevented him the use of his legs.

Read More: What Young People Can Learn From Muhammad Ali

Many people to this day do not know that while he was President, FDR did not have the use of his legs at all. He is a true inspiration to many, especially people with disabilities.

FDR had extreme courage to create new programs to help low income Americans in his New Deal program. He had to make difficult military decisions that would change the United States and the world forever.

Although his bravery is unquestioned, and the times might have made this difficult, he was not out front with his disability show others that disability is something that should be accepted and embraced.

FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Matt Wade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Matt Wade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

He also did not have the best relationships with people of color for no other reason than they were of another race.

Jackie Robinson is an example that can be used to show another athlete who had extreme courage. He was the first African-American to integrate professional team sports. Boxers had integrated professional sports, but this was the first time where an individual had joined a team sport that had been exclusively white.

To many, Jackie Robinson integrating baseball in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers was the start of the Civil Rights Movement.

Jackie was chosen by the Brooklyn Dodgers and Branch Rickey to be the single representative in that season and as someone who could take it after playing four sports at UCLA and being in the military.

As brave as that was for Robinson to do, in my opinion, he did not necessarily risk the way that Muhammad Ali did.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a strong progressive voice. She is a Democrat from California and has been in the House of Representatives since 1998.

One of the most powerful signs of courage was displayed by Congresswoman Lee in the Fall of 2001.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the United States Congress voted to give President authorization to use any force he sees as necessary and appropriate under the circumstances as a response for retaliation against the terrorists who killed thousands of American citizens.

Congresswoman Lee was the lone no vote in the House of Representatives.

She was shocked that she was the only no vote that day.

She talked about in later interviews that she received angry letters for years after her decision.

Photo Credit: Peter T/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Peter T/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Previously, while in the California legislature, she was one of very few no votes against the Three Strikes Law, that puts people in prison for 25 years to life after a third felony conviction.

Many Californian’s lives have been destroyed because of this law. Congresswoman Lee has shown the courage to stand by her decisions even when she knows that she might be one of very few who feel a certain way.

She understands how important it is to represent her constituents in the beset way possible, regardless of how others might decide to represent theirs.

Now lets look at Muhammad Ali’s decision not to step forward to join the United States Army.

He famously said:

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother or some darker people or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what, they never called me Nigger, they never lynched me, they never put no dogs on me, they never robbed me of my nationality, they never raped my mother or father. What am I going to shoot them for what. How am I going to shoot them. They are little poor people women and children. How am I going to shoot them poor people, just take me to jail. If I’m going to die, I’ll die right here fighting you, if I’m going to die. You’re my enemy, my enemy is the white people, not the vietcong, or Chinese or Japanese. You’re my opposer when I want freedom. You’re my opposer when I want justice. You’re my opposed when I want equality, you won’t even stand up for me for my religious beliefs. You want me to go somewhere and fight but you won’t even stand up for me at home.”

Muhammad Ali had just won the Heavyweight Title of the World in Boxing, and had that title stripped from him.

It was the first time any boxer in history had had his boxing title stripped from them without losing it in the ring. Ali was 25 years old, in his athletic prime.

He had only been a boxer up to that point and had no realistic way of knowing how he would provide for himself.

He knew that he was potentially taking a chance where he might not be able to box ever again.

Ali knew that he was giving up years in his prime, while he was the heavyweight champion of the world. To put this in some context, this would be like if Steph Curry decided to leave basketball, go to jail for a political stance and not able to return to the sport.

Ali did all of this in the height of the Civil Rights era in the 1960s, a year before Martin Luther King was assassinated. His level of courage and pride stands above any public figure in American history.

Ali also knew that the backlash for this decision could be even more serious and drastic. After the statement, “I have no quarrel with those vietcong … No vietcong ever called me Nigger.” He saw millions around the country call him unpatriotic. This was only the beginning. Ali could not have known what the reaction would have been like with his fans and supporters, military veterans and supporters of the war and military throughout the country.

Ali could have moved on through life disliked by nearly everyone in his own country. He did not care.

He had already rubbed many the wrong way by joining the Nation of Islam. He rubbed his father and many in his family the wrong way by changing his name from Cassius Clay.

Ali showed another example of being able to make a difficult decision without caring about the possible repercussions, despite understanding what they could and likely would be. That is true courage.

Finally, it has been great to see so much support for an athlete that many, including myself look up to as a role model and a hero.

However, I find it interesting, because many of these same people coming out to support the Greatest now, will talk bad about outspoken athletes like Serena Williams, Floyd Mayweather and Lebron James when they make bold statements that are not as humble as many might like.

I understand that Muhammad Ali was a tremendous person and athlete that makes him different in many other’s eyes from the previous examples, but I hope we can give young superstar entertainers the benefit of the doubt the way many did with Ali as he was growing and becoming the greatest and letting us all know how great that was.

As we go through this election season, one can only hope that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump can show powerful elements of courage in their actions and stances moving forward.

I will hope for our country’s sake that they are not just in this game to get recognized, elected and then reelected. One would hope that the person holding the highest office in the land is doing so with the type of courage that the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali showed on April 28, 1967.

There is not a single athlete, entertainer or elected official that I can think of who displayed more powerful courage in American history than Muhammad Ali on that date.

He impacted a generation of 20 and 30 somethings who did not even get a chance to see him fight live.

His story and passion resonated with all of us and I hope that his courage rubs off on an American society, which is in desperate need of some true courage in its leadership.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Elizabeth Blackwell/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A Trip To Old Overtown To Understand Today’s Problems

By Troy Duffie

We’re going on an extraordinary trip.  But don’t prepare to travel because it doesn’t require a car, train, or any conventional transportation device. It only requires your mind for we’re going on a trip back in time.

The winds pick up as we travel back to Miami circa 1950, a few years after the end of World War Two. We’re moving quickly past fishing boats and the Jungle Queen tour boat at Pier 5, past the Bayfront Park Bandshell, and even past the Olympia Theatre, finally stopping in “Colored Town”.

You may hear the sweet soft echoes of Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald as you make your way down NW 2nd Avenue. You should feel the summer breeze on you cheeks, and savor the smell of fresh fruit in the air.

The crowd you see off in the distance is being let out of the Lyric Theater after watching the latest performance of the hottest play in town. If you turn westward, you may see three buildings hanging above the small houses between NW 2nd Avenue and NW 3rd Avenue. Those buildings are home to St. John Baptist, Mt. Zion Baptist, and Greater Bethel AME, the three churches that anchor this community.

This is the legacy of our nation’s urban policy. This is the legacy of poor race relations in Miami and in America. 

Wind begins to pick up speed as we move forward through time. You slowly, then with some consistent pace begin to see houses disappear. Construction trucks pile in, trees are cleared and the earliest version of I-95 is built where those houses were.

As you turn your face northward on northwest second avenue boards go on business windows, buildings are torn down, and frustration rests on the faces of those who’ve called this place home for years.

The wind picks up speed as we move faster towards the present and when you open your eyes again, what you saw on our trip twenty minutes ago is gone.

It’s been replaced with apartment buildings, homelessness, and poverty. The land that held culture and hosted Joe Louis, WEB Du Bois, and Zora Neale Hurston, has been reduced to dirt, sidewalk, and abandoned buildings.

What you see is modern-day Overtown. A land who’s pride was carved out by urban renewal and the interstate that looms over its residents. This is the legacy of our nation’s urban policy.

This is the legacy of poor race relations in Miami and in America. Communities of color are not inherently poor, or crime infested.

They simply aren’t aided the way they should be. So let’s make that effort to stand up for those communities and give everyone a fair shake.

Let’s make the effort to find ways to “improve” our cities without trucking out people of color. Let’s find a way to expand our skyline without destroying history and culture that spans 40+ years.

Let’s attempt to make communities of color better by improving education, attracting small businesses, and creating resources before we attempt to gentrify.

Let’s adjust this broken urban policy so situations like the one in Baltimore are unlikely to happen across America. Miami’s history can serve as a guide to solve this problem.

Troy Duffie is a Miami native who is a student at Howard University. He is also an ordained minister in Overtown.

Cover Photo Credit: Phillip Pessar/Flickr

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