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by    Mon, Jan 9, 2006, 11:00 AM

Athletics has always played a key role in the civil rights movement. Because of the unique relationship between whites in power and Black super star football player, for a brief moment in history, Texas Longhorn quarterback, Vince Young, was the next Martin Luther King, Jr. In the glare of the world’s sports media spotlight, just a week and a few days before the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Vince Young became a shining example of what Dr. King wished for in his “I Have A Dream “speech. I don’t mean to overstate the magnitude of a college football game, but Vince Young showed the world that white folks who have talented Black folks in their midst are better off then those whites who have not taken advantage of one of our country’s greatest assets.

Dr. King’s memorable “I Have A Dream” speech was all about seeing doors open for African-Americans allowing us to compete and succeed in a world that was dominated by Anglos. Throughout the 2005 college football season, Vince Young set out to lead a team and a state like no other Black man has ever been allowed to do. This quest was even more significant when you consider the University of Texas held the dubious distinction of being the last all white team to win the national collegiate football championship.

Let’s be clear here. There have been several Black quarterbacks who have excelled in college football on white teams before Vince Young. Florida State’s Charlie Ward won the Heisman and gave legendary coach, Bobby Bowden, his first national championship. Texas has even been led by a Black quarterback in the past. Several Black quarterbacks currently hold starting jobs in the NFL. So, what makes Vince Young a momentary incantation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

After Hurricane Katrina and the horrific images of Black Americans being treated like third world refugees, Black communities all over America are nervous about the state of race relations. The current Republican administration with a president that has the lowest approval rating among African-Americans then any president in recent memory does not ease Black America’s concerns that maybe race relations have been put on the political back burner. The University of Texas ironically is considered by many South of the Trinity as far more racist then the rural dwelling, Texas A&M, even though Austin is considered an urbane yuppie oasis for many whites.

With all of that on the table, here comes Vince Young. All week leading up to the big game, UT past greats were praising Young for his leadership qualities. The pundits talked of how a young Black kid from the Houston ghetto was able to change a white coach’s style enabling the coach and his staff to better relate in a positive way to the young Black urban males who made up the nucleus of the Texas Longhorn football team.

Dr. Martin Luther King was not able to fulfill his dream and lead a color blind America into the Promised Land where race is no longer a factor. And Vince Young did not fulfill King’s dream either. But for one shining moment in the course of a college football season, Vince Young made some white folks wonder if maybe they needed to loosen up and listen to what some African-American are saying about the state of our great nation. There was one other thing Vince Young, an urban Black male brought up almost entirely by Black women, did accomplish. He opened up “the eyes of Texas” and that’s how we see it South of the Trinity.

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