Category Archives: Race Relations

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GORDONVILLE – So what is it all really about, this kneel-or-not-to-kneel controversy stirred up by the “president” recently?

Was it really about what NFL players do before a game during the national anthem?

Given the fact that the players generally weren’t on sidelines for pre-game pomp until 2009, around the time the military and the NFL struck a mutually beneficially deal to exploit the new brand of conditional patriotism spawned after 9/11, not really.

Was it about this generation’s Curt Flood, Colin Kaepernick, who is not even playing this year – and is seemingly in hiding?

Nope, not really.

For the answer, peel away the layers and see what’s left.

With his make-believe empire crumbling around him, the “president” stirred his pot of diversion while in Mobile, Alabama.

He was campaigning for Luther Strange, who was about to engage in a runoff election against Judge Roy Moore in a special election to fill the senate vacated when former senator, Jeff Sessions, made the fateful choice to of going from deep-fryer into the fire and become the attorney general.

This is in Alabama, y’all, where “heritage” is a dollar-store disguise for hate.

The kind of place where baseless claims have hit a bull’s eye with his base, where “real” Americans fly flags of treason next to the Old Glory that is to be honored without dissent.

When the “president” tossed Crimson-colored meat to his ravenous followers and ranted about “firing” (there is no such term for NFL players, who are “cut” or “released,” usually with financial consequences for the team that signed them to contracts) those “son of bitch” (i.e. black) football players, it was to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the state that ranks 45th in education.

If they were a little quicker on the uptake, they might have known that a grand total of 10 players out of more than 1,000 took a knee during the previous week’s national anthem.

After he threw his stink bomb, an estimated 250 took a knee.

Seemingly, it lacked a spiral.

Playing his own “Trump” card, the far-right Moore, who was backed by former White House advisor scorned Steve Bannon and holds extreme views like wanting to ban homosexuality (always have to wonder about those who doth protest too much), waived around a gun at a rally a few nights later.

The message: You don’t out-Alabama an Alabama boy in Alabama.

He won by 10 points.

A sweet win for Moore and more Tweets from the “president.”

And that’s what this was all about.

It wasn’t about the NFL’s “son of a bitch” players at all.

It was about who was going to out-Alabama each other the most, in a race to the bottom in an appeal for the bottom-feeder vote.

In the end, it was Moore – hailing from Etowah County, which most known for a still-simmering 1906 lynching case after a white woman was killed – who was able to out-Alabama the slick-talkin’ billionaire Yankee from New York.

This is the Alabama where its “Black Belt Region,” where a large number of black voters live, are subjected to systematic voter suppression tactics (driver’s license centers closing before elections where photo IDs are required).

This is the Alabama where former governor and presidential candidate George Wallace was one of the last segregationist holdouts.

This is the Alabama where they are generally too dumb to realize that the Florida-based band Lynyrd Skynyrd was purportedly merely mocking the Wallace mindset in the state’s unofficial anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama.”

But the “president,” well, he “loves the uneducated.”

That’s probably why he doesn’t love the NFL, and its owners and players.

Turned out the “son of a bitch” players, and the owners who won’t “fire” them, are more sophisticated than he is on his last good day (if anyone can remember when that was).

What he learned – or should have – in his proxy battle with Bannon in the state that ranks fifth all-time in deaths by lynch mob is that more NFL players, and other pro athletes, are more educated than he would like.

Those interviewed – including NBA megastars Stephen Curry and LeBron James — after what will likely be the tip of the protest ice berg were they were as articulate about their reasons as the supposed leader of the free world was incapable of making sense of the issues.

It’s only going to get more intense when basketball season starts, and don’t be surprised if some of the NHL’s 25-30 players “of-color” players make a stand — or kneel — as well (despite being a league that includes many Europeans).

Being surrounded by sycophants afraid to tell him the truth, the “president” fails to realize that one is not a “son of bitch” for peacefully protesting while a White Nationalist/Neo-Nazi/Klansman – the “base” that Bannon told him to coddle – are not full of “many fine people.”

And when you ducked service in the military yourself with mythical bone spurs, you might be the last one to be preaching about disrespect to the flag and the military.

And for those who follow sports closely, who know that athletes with contracts are not at-will employees to be “fired” on a whim – you know, like on a reality TV show — his motives not only seems curious but were also exposed to a larger audience.

The “president” has his own axe to grind with the NFL, which rejected his bid to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014. The antipathy goes back further, when he tried to force a merger with the USFL (he owned that league’s New Jersey Generals) and the NFL but saw his smirk turn to a frown when his awarded $1 in anti-trust lawsuit.

The result of the backfire?

The USFL, which was doing well in the spring, was dead – just like his many bankrupted companies – and a lot people were out of work, not just those on his team.

Was all this on his mind during the rant, which also included belligerence about the league attempted to catch up to itself on the concussion issue (one that also affects members of the military)?


But that’s not what this was all about.

This was about one thing.

It was about a state that proved not to be such a sweet home to his brand of bitter divisiveness.

It was about Alabama.




Cope With No Hope


Cope With No Hope

Another long night, another slain teen

Take a sneak peek, as the dawn bleeds

Splash of cold water, read the tweets

News, views – more prayers for peace

By dusk a vigil, let the cycle repeat

Darkness descends, hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets


Up for air, come pastor and the priest

How many of these have they seen?

Hear what you want, not what you need

Sing a song, prayers for peace

From all this, who will take heed?

Maybe one day we all can break free

Until that day comes, hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets


Now it’s less than a week later

Pick up the local newspaper

Story is gone, never to be followed

Back to the zoo and its baby cougars

Those with jobs, head back to work

Once numb, how much can it hurt?

The root cause, never gets learned

On and on and on, the fire just burns


All that is said cannot be believed

Like blaming it all on the police

Is it the poverty or the money?

The money we all think we need

Take it past these prayers for peace

Prayers end when you hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets

-Gordon Glantz




Double Vision and Head Games

Split Screen



GORDONVILLE – Go ahead, look up at that picture. Study it closely. It will tell you a lot about who you are and which side you are on in this country strewn by an endless and vicious cycle of subdivisions.

The picture has been making the rounds on Facebook a lot lately. What makes it intriguing in Meme World is that is a missile deployed by both supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and those diametrically opposed – supporters of Donald Trump.

Sanders is on the left — naturally (wink) — getting arrested during a Civil Rights protest in Chicago, where he attended college. Trump is on the right, donning a military-style uniform that has medals attached to the chest (and it is not from his “college years,” as the labeling suggests).

Sanders people will say that their man was standing up for others, instead of attending a folk hootenanny and calling it a college experience. Trump backers will say that Sander was a malcontent while their man must have been in the military – perhaps serving in Vietnam – while hippies hid behind their fake morals and causes.

Well, every picture tells a story, and these two pictures – melded into one – tell a story as well.

And here it is.

While Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was campaigning for segregationist Barry Goldwater at the time, Sanders was fighting for Civil Rights and rightfully wears that past proudly. The picture is real. And the arrest – for disorderly conduct and a $25 fine — is listed in newspaper clippings.

The picture was snapped during a 1963 rally against segregation in Chicago, which was in line with Sanders leading a rally against draconian segregating campus housing policies. Sanders, a student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), was passionate enough about this cause to be on the front lines on the home front.

Trump, contrary to what a lot of people would like to believe, never came close to a battlefield – whether in Vietnam or on the streets of a nation as divided by black and white as he has helped make it again with his presidential run.

The son of a wealthy Nazi sympathizer and closet Klansman, Trump was so misbehaved that he was shipped off to military school – the New York Military Academy (NYMA) – for eighth grade and kept there in high school.

At NYMA, he played dress up and marched around enough to be called a “captain.” Hence, the above picture – and “punch-me, please” smirk.

While he has arrogantly claimed to have emerged from this glorified reform school for rich kids more prepared for war than “most in the military,” he curiously avoided Vietnam with Houdini-like prowess.

Declared medically eligible in 1966, Trump received four student deferments while attending Fordham. In 1968, when the time came to show off his soldiering skills, he suddenly developed “bone spurs” in one – or both – feet (he can’t seem to remember).

“I actually got lucky because I got a high draft number,” he has since been quoted as saying.

No doubt he did. Money buys a lot in this country. It even buys you the ability to magically “get lucky” – which those who served, or who lost loved ones, should be deeply offended — but then have the gall to turn around and pander to veterans for support with a empty “Make American Great Again” slogan.

The thing is this, though. Who cares?

Our culture tends to judge the man by what war he fought and deduct testosterone points if he didn’t (even if, like Barack Obama, there was no war in which to serve during the “man-up” years).

In case you haven’t guessed, I am supporting Sanders for president. And while his past of being on the right side of history at almost every turn makes for a nice back story, it is more about what he is standing for in the present – with visions of a less dismal future for coming generations — that has made more passionate about a presidential candidate as I ever been in my five decades on the planet.

I believe Trump has appealed to the lowest common denominator among the American populace, ripping some pages out of Adolph Hitler’s shameful playbook, and that’s just unacceptable (Plus, I developed a strong dislike for the guy when he ruined the USFL back in the 1980s.).

I would rather see former Eagles’ coach Rich Kotite elected president over Trump, but it has little to do with what did or didn’t do during the war.

Anyone who served in Vietnam was a pawn in a game, poor kids offering themselves up as sacrificial lambs at the behest of their rich masters. It was not the World War of their fathers and uncles. It was an ugly and needless war.

But in that place and time, in that moment, there was not much choice for some but to go when called. And we have no choice but to thank them for their service and try and comprehend what they endured.

Anyone who didn’t serve was being just as brave, just in a different way. Sanders was a conscientious objector, and does not pull a Fred Astaire – like Trump, with the rotating bone spurs — when asked. He didn’t believe in the war, but does not disrespect those who served. He has a long history in government of standing up for the rights of veterans – often working across the aisle with Republicans – to back that up.

How veterans support Trump but not Sanders amazes me as much as how blacks, especially in the South, can support Clinton over a man like Sanders, who attended the 1963 march on Washington and was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.

Trump? Well, as outlined above, it’s a little murky what he was all about back then. While it should not change to much in the present, we are in some serious perception and reality terrain and we could use a GPS to find our way out of Meme Hell. It should be cause for pause for anyone looking at the picture above with an objective eye.

I admit I don’t have one, but I will tell you what I see.

I see Sanders as the hero here, not Trump. I will choose wisely.

If Trump went to war, and served admirably, different story. He seemingly hid behind daddy’s checkbook and got deferments. If you think that’s OK, what you are really saying is that Civil Rights – Sanders’ war at home — was not a just cause.

And that is why America was not great then, or now, and won’t be until we face that reality and deal with it.





Pope Brings Hope




GORDONVILLE — The Trail of Tears. Slavery. The Civil War. Jim Crow. Women’s rights (or lack thereof).

Chapters of American history many would like to sweep under the rug.

Just like those pesky witch hunts, first in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 17th century and in post-World War II era when Sen. Joseph McCarthy tried to galvanize the country, and raise his political profile, with hearings – modern-day witch hunts – against Communism, real and perceived, on these shores.

McCarthy enjoyed some popularity at the outset. Warning about a “red under every bed,” he was seen as a bit of an American hero. The thinking: If he ruined a few innocent lives along the way, eh, so what?

By June of 1954, his star was beginning to fade a bit. Television was just taking its place in American culture and ABC — broadcasting to what was its largest audience — put itself on the map with a live broadcast on the 30th day of Army-McCarthy hearings (the senator was taking aim at some Army lawyers).

Under questioning about a lawyer at his firm named Fred Fisher, Army lawyer Joseph N. Welch had enough of McCarthy’s hateful act. When McCarthy brought up Fisher’s name, without warning, Welch lashed back.

After some banter, we are left with this sound bite that proved a turning point in the public consciousness.

“Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator,” said Welch. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

McCarthy persisted, but Welch stood firm on his moral high ground.

“Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you,” he said. “You have sat within six feet of me and could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have seen fit to bring it out. And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further.”

How and why is this relevant?

Depends how much you believe in learning the lessons of history, whether tragic or triumphant.

Because of Donald Trump, the guy with the bad hair who is sitting in the driver’s seat of the clown car that carries the hopefuls – and hopeless — from the Republican party.

After a three-hour debate, during which he was rightfully a marked man by those eating his dust in polls, Trump went on to New Hampshire. There, one his backers – wearing a Trump tee-shirt – engaged in the typical psychobabble about President Barrack Obama being a Muslim who was not born in the U.S.

Trump fostered this notion, of course, when he spearheaded — and financed — the sickening “birther” movement that wanted to know where Obama was born, refusing to take a valid birth certificate as an answer.

After taking some heat in the media for his lack of a coherent response, the other GOP challengers have turtled.

And only Jeb Bush — perhaps Trump’s only legitimate competition, when it is all said and done — came out and refuted those claims, instead saying it is about Obama’s progressive policies (as if progressive, instead of regressive, is a bad thing).

Trump kicked off his campaign with Neil Young’s “Keep on Rockin’ In The Free World” in the blasting in the background and then launched into a tirade about illegal immigrants.

Young, a Canadian anyway, yanked the song from Trump and willed it to my candidate of choice, Bernie Sanders, but the mantra about the illegal immigrants not only stuck, but gained traction – especially with those who attend tractor-pull competitions (and wear Trump tee-shirts to political rallies).

The use of hate speech to become a demagogue should not be taken lightly.

I really don’t want to call Trump another Adolf Hitler, but his attempt to cite one ethnic group to galvanize his base is eerily like ripping Page 1 out of the Nazi playbook.

And if he is running off-tackle with a swastika on his helmet, he is going to a play-action pass with Joseph McCarthy in his heart.

So who is going to put an end to it?

Who is going to play the part of Joseph N. Welch and expose and publicly pull down Trump’s pants and expose his wayward sense of decency?

It’s not going to be any of his fellow candidates, like the milquetoast Bush or comatose Dr. Ben Carson, because they all need to gather steam with some of Trump’s hot air about plans to “ship them all home” and rip families apart based on false claims of them all being rapists roaming the streets at night looking for your daughters.

The Democrats are so polar opposite in this hopelessly divided country that nothing they say, from their own well-worn playbooks, will have any sway.

But someone else just might.

This lapsed-beyond-repair Jew is putting all hope in the pope – Pope Francis.

And he just happens to be on his way to our shores — like a superhero, fresh from a phone booth — right now.

Instead of bemoaning the inconvenience posed by his visit, consider listening to his message.

He just made may save the soul of a country.

Pope Francis has spoken passionately about the plight of those who have come here, like the ancestors of many of us, in search of a better life.

America has never fully cured itself of xenophobia, as every group as faced the hate. But workers were needed during the industrial revolution, as were conscripts for the Union during the Civil War, so grudging exceptions were made.

These days, if you look different and speak different, there is no easy path – or even a doable path – to citizenship like in times of yore.

There are plenty of undocumented souls here – from all over the world – who overstay their work or student visas.

Many are seen with a blind eye because, well, they blend in with the scenery. Like comedian Chris Rock says, “If you’re white, it’s all right.”

Asians have been brought up by some candidates, including Trump, but that rhetoric doesn’t seem to feed to electorate beast the same way as the bull’s eye on Hispanics does.

And if you are from an Arab country, where they often burn American flags, you mystically seem to fly under the radar – at least in comparison to Hispanics, mostly from Mexico and Guatemala.

Pope Francis, born in Argentina, is seen as a beacon of hope for those being outright persecuted for political gain on the American landscape.

During a recent broadcast – ironically on ABC, the same network that made its name back in 1954 when Welch took McCarthy out to the woodshed – the pope fielded questions, via satellite, from many of the misunderstood (and miscast by Trump) and responded with tender and insightful answers.

All eyes – and cameras – will be on the pope during his time here. It will be a healthy shift away from Trump coverage, 25/8.

He will surely speak about his key issues, like climate change and income inequality – you know, the taboo subjects (along with gun control) at the GOP debates – but also on the Trump-inspired wrath on other human beings seeking to make the words on the Statue of Liberty come alive with coherent meaning once again.

And I suspect, he will target Trump — although maybe not by name — about his sense of decency.

That will be enough to take him to school — Bible School.

And I hope – we Secular Humanists don’t pray – it turns Donald Trump into another piece of American history that our children’s children will live to regret.






This Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore




GORDONVILLE — I only have one working windshield wiper, which is probably the result of trying to use them to swipe away layers of ice –usually without much success — this past winter.

Because the non-working wiper is on the passenger’s side, and because I won’t have time to get it addressed until after Sofia starts back to school in a few weeks, I’m just keeping an eye on the weather forecast and doing rain dances.

We could use my wife’s Honda Civic for long drives, but it’s so cramped in there that it leaves my back aching for days.

So, I was within my rights to have Sulu signal a yellow alert when a few sprinkles appeared on my already scratched windshield on the way to the American Music Theater in Lancaster Monday evening to see Loretta Lynn in concert.

Life is tough with only one windshield wiper, but nowhere near as tough as it is when you live in A country where too many around you have one working brain cell.

We were fortunate Monday. We sort of out-drove the rain and made it to our seats, front and center and in the fourth row (why can’t I get those for Springsteen or U2?).

As we looked upon the stage, with the rain coming down much harder outside, the stage was figuratively set for an ideal night.

All in all, Sofia would have rather been at home playing with her American Girl dolls and watching her reruns of reruns on the Disney Channel, but she will thank us one day for taking on the tour of legends.

It began last December, when we saw Bob Dylan from the nose-bleeds SEATS? at the Academy of Music and continued this summer with Gordon Lightfoot at the Keswick and Lynn on Monday.

Plus, unlike Lightfoot, we figured this would be a short concert. Lynn, after all, is 83 years old – making her the oldest performer I’ve seen (not counting my grandfather, Poppie, who played just about any string instrument that was ever made).

Much to our chagrin, a warm-up act, Walker County, was announced. I warmed up quick when I saw the  two sisters, Cutie and Pie, in the three-piece band. They were pretty talented, too, playing more of the Americana country that I enjoy. Pie, the singer with Maria McKee-type pipes, said they would be in the lobby during intermission selling their CD and signing autographs and was “hoping to meet all of y’all” out there.

Sofia professed an interest, and I gladly volunteered to take her to their table – at intermission.

But there was no intermission.

After Walker County exited stage left, Lynn’s “kids” — 51-year-old twin daughters, Peggy and Patsy, and 62-year-old son Ernie — did a few ditties. Then, Lynn came out onto the stage to a lot of the justifiable pomp and circumstance due an icon. There were a few pauses in the action, as other members of the group did some songs to give her a rest.

But, more or less, Lynn rolled through her hit songs to a crowd so long in the tooth – and as white-skinned, and haired, as the driven snow that damaged my windshield – that I felt as young as Sofia.

She did the two songs I knew and liked enough to download on iTunes – “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man) and wrapped up “Coal Minter’s Daughter.”

All in all, a cool experience.

But it had to be tarnished.

Toward the end of the show, Lynn said Ernie , who already ruined a tender moment about the death of Conway Twitty with some sort of quip that earns a yahoo strips in a trailer park, wanted to make a political statement. He hollered out “Trump” and the crowd roared with approval through their dentures while stomping their canes.

Something didn’t connect, but everything fell into place.

We were in America – and relatively close to home – but on a distant planet. Cancel the yellow alert and beam me up, Scotty. No intelligent life down here.

We just listened to this woman, a great American rags-to-riches success story (read the book, see the movie … or at least Google her)  – roll through many of her self-penned songs that, for their time, gave voice to working class women before it was fashionable – and those who felt a connection with that music, whether they had also been wronged by their man or came from humble beginnings, roared their approval for a billionaire candidate who started his personal race about a foot from the finish line because he was born into wealth.

How and why could this be?

Won’t wasted too much time scratching the hair of my goatee.

The same reason that President Obama, despite the fact that it was him – and not Reagan, or anyone named Bush, that gave the Coal Miner’s Daughter with little formal education the Presidential Medal of Freedom — meets with derision.

Racism, plain and simple.

To me, something about Trumpmania is a bit Hitleresque. Not saying he is Hitler, but there are parallels – with the scape-goating of an ethnic to tap into people’s fears – that should not be ignored.

We didn’t defeat Nazi Germany in World War II to become Nazi Germany in an era where more than a 1,000 veterans of that war die per day.

I first thought about this uncomfortable parallel watching Trump babble – in a football stadium, no less – in front of a crowd with the combined wealth of his shoelaces in Mobile, Alabama a few days back.

It hit home in the American Music Theater in Lancaster Monday night when Ernie Lynn did his thang.

And from that moment on, the show was over in my mind.

Some of the other guys in the band did a passable cover of “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” but I was feeling anything but peaceful and easy, especially with my daughter being exposed to that nonsense.

When Lynn finished singing “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” there was a moment of indecision in the room.

Was it over, or was there an intermission?

The side doors opened, the house lights went up.

Right on cue.

At Sofia’s insistence – she is the alpha of the family – we went to the lobby to find the girls from Walker County.

Their real names are Sophie Dawn and Ivey Dene (their daddy, Billy Walker, plays guitar and helps write the tunes) and could not have been any nicer, posing for a picture with Sofia and signing an autograph.

When I wished Sophie Dawn good luck, and told her how good they sounded, she put down what she

was holding and shook my hand and thanked me.

All good, and we have a young band to root for, but it could not erase the sour taste.

We played the Walker County CD on the way home, and didn’t say much as we listened. When it ended – it’s an EP (only six songs) – Laurie and I discussed the scenario and how it related to the state of the country.

One of Sofia’s new pop idols, Becky G, came on the radio — Disney Channell, which now one of my presets (gulp) — and Laurie mentioned that the Mexican-American teen who went to work at age 9 to help parents who were struggling – likely as much as Loretta Lynn’s were — had recently written a song in response to Trump called “We Are Mexico.”

I’m sure it’s not my kind of music, but it’s the type of message we need to send.

Perhaps, while we are taking Sofia to see as many older musical icons while they are still standing, she has a role model with her finger on the pulse of a divided country.

When Trump entered the contest, I laughed. When he surged to the top of the polls, I chuckled.

I figured he would divide the GOP enough that the way would be paved for a Democrat – hopefully Bernie Sanders, but not likely (more to do with his ethnicity than being a “s-s-s-socialist”) – to win the election next November.

Now, I’m not so sure. Now, I really think this guy can win.

Before Obama even had a second foot through the door of the oval office, haters started hating, saying they wanted their country back.

To put a spin on Lynn’s aforementioned hit, I fear Trump may just be man enough to take my country.

I would say I don’t get it.

Sadly, I do.

And this joke isn’t funny anymore.

I may only have one working windshield wiper, but I can see clearly now.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Clearing Another Hurdle: Norristown’s Culbreath to enter MCCHOF


Josh Culbreath, above, clears a hurdle while running for Morgan State at the Penn Relays. The Norristown native will be inducted in the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame Nov. 26. Dinner tickets are $60 (tables of 8 are $440).  Mail checks to: Montgomery Coaches Hall of Fame; 803 Northview Blvd., Norristown, Pa., 19401. For more information, call 610-279-9220 or e-mail or



When Josh Culbreath came out for the Norristown High track team as a sophomore, he faced a bit of a conundrum.

The spikes needed to run on the cinder track at Roosevelt Field were property of the school and only handed out to those already on the team.

Any hopeful for legendary coach Pete Lewis’ squad had the challenge of out-pacing an existing letterman while wearing the familiar Converse basketball sneakers that many in the working class community bought at a local pawn shop.

He walked away, in silent protest, vowing to clear the figurative hurdle being laid in his path.

In 11th grade, Culbreath – after already running for track glory in middle school events at the Penn Relays – decided to take matters into his own hands.

Or feet, that is.

He decided to run barefoot on the cinders.

Culbreath – who also played basketball and football at Norristown High — made the team, and the rest is track and field history.

“I knew I was capable,” said the 81-year-young North Wales resident. “I paid the price, but I proved my point.”

The hardware in Culbreath’s trophy case includes a bronze medal from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and two goal medals from the Pan American games.

On Nov. 26 — at Westover GC in West Norrition, Pa. (ticket information at bottom of article)  – Culbreath will be inducted in the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame, just miles from where it all began on the East End of Norristown.

Along the way, he always remaining a fierce but friendly competitor. Well-traveled and interested in other cultures, Culbreath would speak to foreign rivals in their own tongue and then say “I’m gonna whip your butt” in English, while they still smiled and nodded.

And he continued to fight injustice in his own way.

Sometimes he paid the price, but he kept on proving his point.

Such was the case when he was summoned from the campus of Morgan State in Baltimore for the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico and met up with the team in Houston.

Culbreath and his fellow black teammates were not allowed to stay in a fancy hotel, instead being put up on a local Army base.

When the same hotel arranged for the athletes at the to have steak dinners brought in, Culbreath refused.

“They said, ‘Oh no, you can’t do that,’ … I said, ‘Oh, yes I can, and you don’t what to get me started,’” he recalled, shaking his head from side to side, still displaying  a combination of disbelief in the scenario and pride in his stance.

“And they didn’t,” he added. “They knew better.”

When he went on to win gold in Mexico City, pictures of him collapsing after crossing the finish line prompted him to enroll in law school at the University of Colorado so he could train in high altitude.

He paid the price once, this time for not being prepared enough to win with dignity.

He was going to prove his point the next time around.

That chance came in 1959, taking gold again at the Pan American Games in Chicago.

Before scoring a scholarship to Morgan State, Culbreath was hoping against hope to use athletics as a springboard to a college education, but was prepared to follow his older brother into the Navy.

Culbreath did serve in the Marines after college, where he was a three-time national champion, and was the first active-duty Marine duty to both participate – and win a medal – in the Olympics.

He taught and coached in the Norristown School District, getting a Masters’ degree in education from Temple University, often using unconventional methods to get across to students labeled unteachable.

He moved on instruct young people around the world in track and field.

In 1988, Culbreath took the job as head track and field coach — for men and women — at Central State in Ohio.

Winning 10 NAIA titles – men and women, indoor and outdoor – had him and his team at the White House Rose Garden, being honored by President Bill Clinton.

Again, like that high school junior running barefoot on a cinder track, Culbreath was willing to stay true to himself.

Known as “Pop” to his athletes, he was willing to pay the price to prove a point.

When Deon Hemmings, a female runner from Jamaica, said she didn’t want to run anymore at practice, Culbreath offered to help her to pack her bags.

She stayed, and went on to win a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (where three of his other athletes also competed) and two silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Games.

A male runner with Olympic pedigree, Neal de Silva of Trinidad and Tobago, was actually sent home but welcomed back when he “became a man.”

De Silva, who placed seventh at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, paid the price.

Culbreath, his coach, proved a point.

Yet again.

Dinner tickets are $60 (tables of 8 are $440).  Mail checks to: Montgomery Coaches Hall of Fame; 803 Northview Blvd., Norristown, Pa., 19401. For more information, call 610-279-9220 or e-mail or

The Dream Goes On


Fifty years ago, we saw the best of the American spirit and its will to change when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a march on Washington, D.C.

There, he delivered one of the greatest speeches in our history, one that rivals Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

He said it better than I, or anyone else, could explain it. So why not read it again — I know, it requires patience, but try — with enlightened eyes?

The following is the full text:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.


It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

In Cooper’s Corner



GORDONVILLE – I always liked Riley Cooper.

I thought the Eagles committed highway robbery in 2010 when they snagged him in the fifth round of the NFL Draft out of Florida, where he was the favorite target of roommate Tim Tebow for the two-time national champion Gators.Image

As a rookie, when Cooper was in the midst of what seemed to be a breakout game against the Tennessee Titans (during which Andy Reid managed to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory), my exuberance led to a halftime Facebook status that Cooper was the object of my man-crush.

I was kidding, but the point was that I have always been in this kid’s corner.

I remember the recovery of the onside kick in the 2010 remake of the Miracle of the Meadowlands, and his highlight-reel touchdown catch last season, after coming back strong after from a broken collarbone.

While the Eagle Nation mourned the loss of Jeremy Maclin for the season, I saw an opportunity for Cooper – along with Damaris Johnson – to step up and fill the void.

I was encouraged to read quotes from Reid’s replacement, Chip Kelly, who seemed – through layers of Coachspeak, one of the few foreign languages I comprehend – to be giving Cooper a vote of confidence.

He talked about all the attributes I always saw – Cooper’s size, hands, downfield blocking (a must in this new offense) and physicality.

Seemed like opportunity had knocked — and fate was answering — for Cooper in a sport where back-up players keep their heads down and work at their craft, not wishing for injury to teammates but are keeping themselves ready for the inevitable.

His career totals of 46 catches and five touchdowns seemed likely to be topped in just one season.

And that fast, penalty flags all over the field.

He was caught on tape in the middle of a drunken tirade at a Kenny Chesney concert. He cursed at a security guard and used the “N” word. It happened weeks ago, but came out this week to the normal shock and dismay.

If you would have told me this had happened and to guess which white player would be guilty of something so moronic, Cooper would have been about the last guy I would have guessed.

He always seemed so laid back when interviewed, and maybe we were fooled by him saying semi-religious stuff about “being blessed” to have made a catch and so forth.

Cooper is a rarity in that he not only got his college degree, despite being a two-sport star pro in either football or baseball (ironically, he was drafted by the Phillies out of high school). And his degree was in family, youth and community services (a stark contrast to some of the laughable fields of study chosen – i.e. recreation — by athletes).

That should provide more of a window into his inner being, at least for those who want to dig that deep.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, you would have to say he is a decent person. Whatever he feels in his heart and soul, he revealed that he is only human.

And humans make mistakes.

Even sure-handed receivers, like Cooper, drop the ball.

And he dropped it hard.

Now the question: Should his illegal procedure be followed by more penalty flags for piling on and for late hits from the peanut gallery?

“All men die, not all men live,” is his favorite quote, according to the team’s media guide. Should others now sentence him to live in infamy?

The guy is a football player – one who will be 26 in September.

Stop and let that sink in.

And consider:

-More tapes of Richard Nixon’s psychotic rants have come out and the only response from the mainstream media is that they are “interesting.”

-Bill O’Reilly race-baits nightly on Fox News but because he hides behind buzzwords, as opposed to the “N” word, he is right there on the air every night.

-Rick Santorum said homosexuality equated to bestiality and he was a serious candidate by a major political party for president (winning four states, good for 248 delegates and 20 percent of the vote).

-Jesse Jackson, in 1983, referred to New York as “Hymietown” and his only excuse – in lieu of an apology — was that the conversation with the reporter was off-the-record. He also said that he was “sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust.” A civil rights leader to this day, he was a presidential candidate, not to mention a Baptist minister.

Until we hold people like these to a higher standard, we should think twice about a football player who wasn’t allowed backstage at a concert and used a word he likely hears daily.

Even if Riley Cooper wasn’t “brought up like that” by his parents, which is what he says, the culture has brought the “N” word to lips.

Cooper works in an environment where that word, for better or worse, is probably tossed around more than the oblong pigskin that he is paid to catch 1,000 times in practice just so he can get his paws on IT a few times 16 weeks of the year during the season.

It likely comes from locker-room boom boxes, or from teammates rattling off the lyrics to the latest rap song (a genre Cooper also likes, along with country). It comes from joking around. It comes from quotes on tattoos on their muscled-up bodies.

And, let’s be honest, that word – or ones like it – can be heard in small groups of same-race players talking about others.

I have been in pro locker rooms. Trust me on this.

Sometimes athletes get caught doing whatever and they issue apologies that we dare judge as true, false or somewhere in between.

The sense here is that Cooper is genuinely sorry – and no, not just because he got caught, which is the cute riddle with no rhyme the public lynch mob enjoys.

From reports, he actively apologized. None of it was staged. The team fined him, after consulting with the NFL – an entity besieged with players doing a lot of more egregious things (including Aaron Hernandez, Cooper and Tebow’s college teammate) than a guy going temporarily insane at a concert.

The team is also going to send him to sensitivity training, even placing him on leave as of Friday (we’ll probably see him back sometime between the first and second preseason games, when other storylines emerge).

That’s more than teammate Jason Peters got from the team for allegedly drag racing and leading police on a car chase prior to camp. It’s more in the way of ramifications against LeSean McCoy for a Twitter war with the mother of his son, or for the alleged incident last December which involved a woman who said he, and others, assaulted her on a party bus he rented – while he was supposed to be preparing to return from a concussion – to go from Philadelphia to New York City.

Cooper lists McCoy as his funniest teammate. Maybe he thought the star running back was kidding when he came out and said he couldn’t respect Cooper anymore and felt that he lost a friend.

Surely, McCoy is not alone. Cooper has a lot of damage control ahead of him. And it’s all with a target on his back for a few seconds of indiscretion.

He has already punished himself. No matter what he says or does, probably for the rest of his life, he will be branded as “that guy.” There will be protestors at away games. There will be boos whenever he makes a catch.

It’s a bad situation, but there is no need to make it worse.

They say that those without sin should throw the first stone, and yet stones are coming fast and furious at Riley Cooper – at least until the next pro athlete steals the headlines for something stupid they said or did.

No one knows this better than quarterback Michael Vick, who spent 21 months in jail for well-documented transgressions, only to come out and be voted “most courageous” by his mostly black teammates.

Vick, along with the ultra-religious Jason Avant, have been the first to forgive – without necessarily forgetting – in the case of Cooper.

As for me?

I still like Riley Cooper.

I just don’t like what he did.

I’m still in his corner.

And I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

This commentary also appeared at