The Grambling Football Team Boycott

Grambling State University

Since 2007-08, overall state funding for Grambling has gone from $31.6 million to $13.8 million. The school has attempted to bridge that gap by increasing tuition, but it has fallen short, and cuts have been made across the board.

Grambling State University (GSU) is the latest HBCU to make national mainstream news recently. Most notably there was Howard University with its fiscal issues and forced resignation of President Ribeau and my alma mater, Florida A&M University and the aftermath of the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. It goes without saying that all of the institutions mentioned are iconic in black society.  Their rich histories of accomplishments in spite of tremendous challenges and ability to produce outstanding alumni are sources of pride for all HBCUs.

The revolt of the Grambling football team and student protest should not be taken lightly. The Grambling football team’s actions, though ill-timed, are laudable and just might be the tipping point in motivating the activism needed in moving toward adequate state funding that has seen the University cut from $31.6 million to $13.8 million in since 2007-08. 

Changes in coaching staff (particularly the firing of Doug Williams), poor training facilities, insufficient food and long arduous travel by bus are some of the complaints by the football team. The sad reality is that most HBCUs find themselves in a financially fragile state.

Dr. Pogue, GSU President, apologized to Jackson State University for the cancellation of the football game. It was JSU's Homecoming game. If you attended an HBCU, you know how big of a deal Homecoming is. The pageantry of the week of activities and reunion of friends is difficult to reduce to words. If you didn’t attend an HBCU but you did see the movie Drumline, halftime really is showtime and the bragging rights over which school has the best marching band is more passionate than the results of the football game. So, to ruin Jackson State’s homecoming game, was not the most effective action in seeking support for the demands of the GSU football team. It should be noted that 22 players did show up to board the buses for the JSU game and receiving a letter from University officials basically threatening revocation of their student-athlete scholarships.

The GSU football team has successfully drawn attention to their plight. Prayerfully the school's administration will resolve this issue quickly. Anyone who knows the history of Grambling and college football can't help but think of Eddie Robinson, Grambling's legendary football coach, and how he would feel if he were alive today. Forfeiting a football game is one thing but saving one's history and legacy is another. 

In the meantime, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has made no secret of his desire to merge HBCUs with larger PWIs in the University of Louisiana System. Dwindling state fiscal resources, budget cuts and diversity will be used to convince taxpayers that merger is the wise move to make. Grambling and other HBCUs have to be marketed and managed differently. Ethnic pride and a rich legacy will no longer assure sufficient student enrollment numbers to support the existence of HBCUs.


Related Links:

Dennis Winston named interim coach

After Grambling player revolt, game at Jackson State canceled

Amid protests, Grambling State against Jackson State is canceled

The inside story of what caused Grambling football players to revolt



Tennis Legend Althea Gibson Honored with Postage Stamp

Althea Gibson Forever Postage Stamp
© 2013 U.S. Postal Service

Beginning Friday, August 23, 2013, customers may purchase the Althea Gibson Forever stamp at, at 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide. Tennis legend Althea Gibson is the 36th inductee into the Postal Service’s Black Heritage stamp series

“I’m excited that the Postal Service is releasing a Forever stamp that honors the legacy of my friend, Althea Gibson,” said fellow tennis legend Billie Jean King. “Her achievements served as a catalyst for equality in sports and in life and I am honored to participate in this historic event.” 

As the first African-American tennis player to win one of the four major singles tournaments, Althea Gibson (1927–2003) helped integrate her sport at the height of the civil rights movement. She twice won Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) and became the top-ranked player in the world.

“Althea Gibson was impossible to ignore,” said U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer William Campbell. “Her achievements demanded Americans everywhere pay attention — and pay attention they did. She opened doors that other African-American tennis players would one day walk through — including Arthur Ashe, Katrina Adams, Chanda Rubin and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.”

The stamp, which features an action shot of Gibson, emphasizes two of her notable characteristics:  grace and athleticism. Designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, the stamp features an oil-on-wood painting of Gibson by artist Kadir Nelson of Los Angeles, CA. The art is based on a photograph taken at Wimbledon. 


The Making of the Icon 

Gibson was born Aug., 25, 1927 in Silver, SC. As a young child, she was sent to New York City to live with her aunt Sally. Gibson’s parents, Annie and Daniel, eventually migrated north as well, settling in an apartment on West 143rd Street in Harlem.

As a child, Gibson fared well in New York’s Police Athletic League (PAL) paddle tennis competitions. Musician Buddy Walker, who worked during summers as a play leader for the PAL, saw potential in Gibson. He purchased a few used tennis rackets and gave them to her. Later, she was formally introduced to the game at Harlem's Cosmopolitan Club, a hub for black tennis players.

In 1942, Gibson entered — and won — her first tournament, the New York State Open Championship. The event was sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA), the country’s black tennis circuit. Gibson went on to win the ATA junior championship in both 1944 and 1945. By 1946, Gibson was competing at the women’s level. She dominated the ATA in the late-1940s and earned her high school diploma in June 1949.

Soon after graduation, she entered Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee on an athletic scholarship. In college, she played basketball and also kept her tennis skills sharp. The latter came in handy in 1950, when Gibson got her first real shot at the big time. Perhaps she was spurred on by an American Lawn Tennis editorial written by former tennis champ Alice Marble — an ardent Gibson backer and supporter of equal rights. The United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) accepted her application to play in that summer’s United States Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) in Forest Hills, NY. Gibson, the first African-American ever to enter that tournament, advanced to the second round. In 1951, she once again made history, becoming the first black player to enter Wimbledon.

In 1953, Gibson graduated from Florida A&M and took a job teaching physical education at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. For the next few years, her USLTA ranking fluctuated. She mulled joining the Women's Army Corps in order to support herself and her family. Still, she hadn't forgotten about tennis.

Around that time, coach Sydney Llewellyn began helping Gibson reshape her game. Gibson also received support from friend Rosemary Darben, a player on the ATA circuit. Throughout the 1950s, Gibson lived with the Darben family in Montclair, NJ.

In 1955, Gibson received an invitation from the State Department to join a delegation of American tennis stars for a public relations tour of Asia. The trip proved to be invaluable. She bonded with her fellow players and, in the process, gained confidence and on-court savvy.

She built on the experience, stringing together an impressive run of victories in Asia and Europe. In 1956, she captured the French Championships (now known as the French Open) in Paris and became the first African-American of either gender to win one of the four major singles tournaments. Gibson also teamed up with Angela Buxton to win the doubles crown. The victories were vital for Gibson, who was well aware of the burden she carried.

“No matter how hard I tried to think of myself as just another person, I was constantly being confronted with proof that I wasn’t, that I was a special sort of person — a Negro with a certain amount of international importance. It was pleasant to think about but very hard to live with,” Gibson wrote in I Always Wanted to Be Somebody, her autobiography. “It was a strain, always trying to say and do the right thing, so that I wouldn't give people the wrong idea of what Negroes are like.”

Still, Gibson pressed on, earning a measure of stardom in the midst of the civil rights movement. She achieved perhaps the most famous victory of her career on July 6, 1957, prevailing in the Wimbledon final in straight sets. Afterward, Gibson shouted, “At last! At last!” During the trophy ceremony, she was greeted by Queen Elizabeth II. When Gibson returned to New York, the city threw her a ticker-tape parade. The good times continued that summer. In August, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine. On Sept. 8, Gibson cruised to victory in the final of the U.S. Championships to win the tournament for the first time.

Gibson, the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1957 and 1958, had become the top-ranked player in the world. In 1958, she successfully defended her titles both at Wimbledon and at the U.S. Championships. She turned professional soon after, ending her amateur career with five major singles titles and six major doubles titles.

Gibson's days as a competitive athlete, however, were not over. In 1959 and 1960, she toured with the Harlem Globetrotters, playing before their games against fellow tennis star Karol Fageros. In 1958 she released an album called Althea Gibson Sings and performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. She also became the first African American to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. She played many LPGA tournaments in the 1960s.

In 1971, Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She later worked in athletics for the state of New Jersey, where she made her home. She died Sept. 28, 2003, at the age of 76.

Many of this year’s other stamps may be viewed on Facebook at, via Twitter at @USPSstamps or at


Tiger Woods in Wax...and Hot Water

Tiger Woods wax figure

Here is a photo of a couple of visitors with a wax figure of U.S. golfing legend, Tiger Woods at the newly opened Louis Toussaud's Waxworks in Pattaya, Thailand.

Tiger’s stock has surely dropped in the last few days because of his adulterous ways. The damage control needed to repair his image will be tremendous. You can’t unscramble eggs so Tiger just has to make the best of this situation and try to ride this one out. --- especially the jokes that will be brutal. In the meantime, it's a safe bet that Woods will be Huggy Lowdown's Bama of the Week...Week...Week.


Pornchai Kittiwongsakul-AFP/Getty Images

Caster Semenya: Pawn in Athletics Controversy [VIDEO]


By now, you have heard of the case of South African runner Caster Semenya whose sex has come under scrutiny. Semenya totally dusted the competition in the women's 800m race and improved her time to the point that she must prove she's female.

Semenya's family and countrymen are outraged but why? This young woman appears to be a pawn in this controversy.

Hello, Semenya looks masculine. From all accounts she has looked masculine and demonstrated masculine behavior most of her life. Why, in heaven's name would athletic officials allow the 18 year-old to be subjected to such humiliation surrounding her latest win without resolving the sex issue much earlier? It's just not right.

Jokes have been made about this situation but it's not funny when a shy 18 year-old from a third world country is at the center of the controversy. Who knows how this will turn out and the psychological effect on the teenager?

Semenya wanted to boycott the medal ceremony because of the publicity. She should be rejoicing because she's victorious; but she's not.

Regardless of the tests to prove sex, that is an issue that is not black or white but very gray. Let's chill out and let this process play out.

Last question: Would Semenya's sex be an issue had she not won? Let's keep Caster Semenya in our prayers regardless the outcome. No one deserves this humiliation about their sex. 

Grambling Wins Bayou Classic, Tuskegee Winning Streak Broken

Grambling State University won the Bayou Classic by beating Southern University 29-14 in New Orleans. The game was a far closer match than the scores tell. Now The Grambling team will meet Jackson State in Birmingham on December 13 for the SWAC Championship.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that the Alabama State football team totally shocked top-ratedTuskegee University by handing them their first loss in 26 games. On Thanksgiving Day, The ASU Golden Hornets defeated the TSU Golden Tigers 17-13.


© 2008, on the black hand side,

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Howard University Defeats Oregon State University in Hoops Season Opener

The Howard University Men's basketball team shocked the college basketball world with a win over PAC-10 team, Oregon State University (OSU). The game was a season opener for both teams and definitely not a good start for new OSU coach, Craig Robinson, brother-in-law of president-elect Barack Obama.

The final score: 47-45.


© 2008, on the black hand side,


Skating Champion Debi Thomas

Do you remember the Winter Olympic Games of 1988 and the athletic beauty of a young black woman by the name of Debi Thomas? Well, not only was Ms. Thomas a gifted athlete; she was also gifted academically. She's successfully completed medical school and is a wife and mother.

Here's a retrospective, from 2006, on Dr. Debi Thomas, Olympic champion.


Character Champions
by Terry Brown

A radiant Debi Thomas, dressed in a black sequined skating dress, stood alone at center ice in Calgary, Canada. As the last figure skater on the evening of Feb. 27, 1988, she knew she had a chance to win a gold medal for the United States at the Olympic Winter Games.

The 20-year-old Thomas had halted her studies at Stanford University and trained six hours a day since July for this moment. She felt burned out, but she had decided to try a difficult triple toe/triple toe jump combination to open her 4-minute performance.

The music began, and Thomas started setting up for her athletic jump combination. She stumbled on the landing, and East Germany's Katarina Witt won her second Olympic gold medal.

"I had a 15-second lapse of concentration, and when I missed the combination, I thought, 'How bad would it look if I left the ice right now?'" Thomas said in a recent interview. "It was not the proudest moment of my skating career, but it also was not the end of the world."

Thomas finished her program and won the bronze medal-the first African American athlete to win a medal at the Olympic Winter Games. Elizabeth Manley of Canada took second place and the silver medal.

Today, Thomas, 38, doesn't dwell on her Olympic disappointment. "I have so many other more significant accomplishments that make my life complete," she says.

Indeed, Dr. Thomas works these days making rounds with residents at the Martin Luther King Jr./ Charles Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she is a junior attending physician repairing bone fractures and doing other orthopedic procedures.

She also finds time for her husband, Chris Bequette, a financial analyst; and her 8-year-old son, Christopher, whom they call "Luc." She does volunteer work for children's charities and continues to promote figure skating.

Thomas began setting high goals and striving to achieve them early in life. Born March 25, 1967, in San Jose, Calif., she went to see the Ice Follies with her mother before she had turned 4. Later, she asked for a pair of skates and began taking lessons at 5-the same age when she began telling people she wanted to be a doctor.

According to Thomas, her mother, a senior programming analyst for a computer company, insisted education come first. "School was always very important to me, and I knew from a young age that I needed to be well-educated," Thomas recalls. "My mother always said, 'You have too good a mind to waste. Concentrate on your vocation, and if your avocation works out, fine.'"

When Thomas was 10, her mother approached British-born Alex McGowan about coaching her daughter. He agreed and quickly improved Thomas' technical skating skills. But McGowan was based in Redwood City, Calif., and Debi and her mother had to commute everyday from San Jose for practices.

"When I was growing up, she drove more than 100 miles a day to take me to skating lessons," Thomas says, "and she would work two jobs to pay for those lessons."

McGowan was a taskmaster who demanded his students do exactly as he said. Thomas was an independent and strong-minded pupil. Unlike most skaters, she was determined to skate competitively and get an education at the same time.

"There was a constant battle over my insistence on going to school to become a doctor some day," Thomas says. "Mr. McGowan would tell me that I shouldn't do it because I could make so much more money skating."

After graduating from San Mateo High School, she entered Stanford in the fall of 1985. A few months later, she won the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, defeating Tiffany Chin. A month later, she faced 1984 Olympic champion Katarina Witt at the World Figure Skating Championships in Geneva, Switzerland. After Witt stumbled in her short program, Thomas needed to finish second in the long program to beat her. She skated a clean program and won the title.

"My proudest accomplishment in skating was winning both the U.S. and World titles during my freshman year at Stanford," Thomas says. "I showed Mr. McGowan and the rest of the naysayers that I could do it."

In 1987, however, Thomas lost to Jill Trenary at the U.S. Championships and to Witt at the World Championships.

In early 1988, Thomas returned to form at the U.S. Championships in Denver, and defeated Trenary to win her second U.S. title.

With the Thomas-Witt rivalry at its peak, the stage was set for a showdown at Calgary. Both women had selected the same music from Bizet's tragic opera "Carmen" and neither would change. The press labeled the upcoming competition, "The Battle of the Carmens," which intensified the mind games and preparation for to the Olympics.

"It just wasn't meant to be," Thomas says of her loss to Witt.

After the Olympics, she returned to Stanford in the fall and skated professionally on weekends. She took a demanding load of pre-medical courses and changed her major from microbiology to biology and then to engineering. Along the way, she won three World Professional skating titles. In June 1991 at 24, Thomas received her bachelor's degree in engineering and product design.

In June 1997, she graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, and last June she completed the Orthopedic Residency Program at Charles R. Drew University. Thomas plans to spend the next year studying for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons' exam. In July 2006, she will begin a one-year fellowship at the Dorr Arthritis Institute at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, Calif., becoming a specialist in adult hip and knee replacement surgery.

"There's really nothing you can't do if you set your mind to it and are willing to work hard," Thomas says. "The important thing is not to be afraid to try. You may fall on your face many times, as I have, but you will learn from your mistakes and, eventually, get where you want to go."

More than 250 young figure skaters will do just that and set their minds to figure skating gold this winter in St. Louis, Mo. The 2006 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships will take place Jan. 8-15 at the Savvis Center as figure skaters from across the country converge upon the Show-Me State to become the Debi Thomases of tomorrow.

Black People Can ‘Hang Ten’

Chances are if you've heard of the stretch of Santa Monica Beach known as "The Ink Well", you may also know the name Nicolas "Nick" Rolando Gabaldon, Jr. Who is he? He is believed to be the first black surfer in California and possibly the first in all of the United States. Yeah, surfing is not just for white guys.

Several months ago I'd seen an article in either Essence or Ebony; I really don't remember which one, about black surfers. I thought it was really cool. I'd previously written about a young African surfer who was breaking all sorts of surfing records but back to Gabaldon.

He was born to Nicolas and Cecelia Gabladon on February 23, 1927. He was of a few blacks who attended Santa Monica High in the 1940s. He is described as tall and handsome. Gabaldon first learned to surf by borrowing the board of a Caucasian lifeguard in the area.

Of African-American and Latino descent, Gabaldon and other blacks were restricted to the 200 foot roped area of the Ink Well. After segregation ended, he would travel several miles to surf the perfect waves of Malibu.

Nick enlisted in the Navy after graduation and fought in the latter part of World War II. He enrolled in Santa Monica College and continued to hone his surfing skills.

Gabaldon met an untimely death as he rode a 10 ft. wave, crashed into Malibu Pier and died on June 6, 1951.

Today, the legend of Gabaldon and other pioneering black surfers such as Frank Edwards, Stanley Washington and Walter "Tiger" Daniels live on and are preserved by organizations such as the Black Surfing Association. Black surfers such as Rhonda Harper who spearheaded the establishment of the latest memorial for Nick Gabaldon and Ink Well Beach, the Caribbean Surf Network and South African professional surfer Kwezi Qika are blazing new trails to expose more blacks to surfing.


For information check out these sites:

Where are the black surfers?

Black Surfers Bring It Back Home

Ocean Size

Legendary Surfer: Sharon Schaffer


A shout out to Matt from "A Bowl of Stupid" who inspired this post. He promised me surfing lessons while he was living on Miami Beach but later he quit his lawyer gig and decided to do some world traveling. Now he's on the other side of the world fighting dengue fever, viral infections, rugged terrain and all sorts of craziness. But, dude is being true to himself and that can't be wrong. Anyhoo, this Bud's for you.