HOF Hosts #HuddleUpAmerica Listen

HOF Hosts #HuddleUpAmerica Listen

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Recent events have shown that for progress to be made against social injustice, laws must change. Policies and procedures must change. Attitudes must change.

And such profound changes all begin with listening to each other.

Those thoughts, from David Baker, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and others were among the many insightful comments delivered over more than an hour as the Hall brought together a diverse group for a special program this week called #HuddleUpAmerica Listen.

Hosted by the Hall’s Jamir Howerton, the guests offered unvarnished views on how to make strides in improving race relations in America.

In addition to Baker, the invitees for the town hall-style session included four high school students and:

  • Gold Jacket Aeneas Williams
  • Gold Jacket Champ Bailey
  • NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent
  • Renowned educator Dr. Art McCoy
  • Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff Leon Lott
  • Head of NFL Security Cathy Lanier

“This is not a black versus white issue; this is an everybody against racism issue,” said McCoy, who was named the youngest and first black Superintendent/CEO of the Ferguson-Florissant School District at the age of 33.

Ferguson, Mo., was the site of unrest and riots in August 2014, following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer.

“What I’ve seen in this movement that encourages me is it’s just not African Americans,” said Lott, a law enforcement officer for 45 years and sheriff in his home community since 1996. “After George Floyd’s murder, what we’ve seen now is all races saying, ‘There’s a problem. There’s a problem with racism, and we need to do something about it.’”

Baker noted that several groups in our community – African Americans and law enforcement among them – are in pain.

“When one member of the team is hurting, we’re all hurting,” Baker said. “And right now, our African American community is hurting a great deal. And I think we’re learning they’ve lived in fear a long time.”

Baker called on everyone “in the huddle” to speak out against injustice and to have the “sometimes uncomfortable conversations that bring us together and help us move forward.”

The #HuddleUpAmerica Listen town hall was the latest initiative of the #HuddleUpAmerica campaign the Hall started in 2017 to foster dialogue and to improve understanding among people from varied backgrounds.

“It takes our peers – our white peers – to want … to commit to ending racism,” Vincent said, “and seeing these injustices come to an end.”

Vincent said its time to put a plan together and “seeing all parties come together for the common good of a better nation.”

Williams told a story of returning home to New Orleans with his children and watching them interact with his father in a manner different than his own upbringing.

“Pops, you’re getting soft,” Williams said he told his father, who replied, “No, son. As you get older, you just realize there is a better way.”

One better way: Huddle up.

Watch Full Program:

#HuddleUpAmerica Listen Summary Clip:

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