Dear beloved Grambling friends, family and fans:
56-0 We Won! When I first heard about the GSU – vs.-TCU football “game” coming to Ft. Worth I could hardly contain my personal quagmire. I’ve personally struggled, since the 2011 Port City Classic, while remaining silent to avoid appearing unfaithful to our Dear Ol’ Grambling about an uncomfortable “Inconvenient Truth.”
Many have preferred to overlook or deny the current reality. Yes, the Mighty Tigers football program of Grambling State University will forever hold a special place in our hearts (especially for me). GSU has accomplished phenomenal greatness over the years!
I remember when Grambling boasted about having more players in professional football than any other college. I remember seeing the great Ernie Ladd, Buck Buchanan and James Harris play at Grambling! For others after I left home, our Super Bowl QB hero Doug Williams undeniably made an indelible mark in sports history!
Here’s our dilemma: Many of us and our parents before us passionately fought for integration and equality. You remember, “We Shall Overcome” and all of that. Well, TCU, Louisiana Tech, LSU and other Historically White Colleges and Universities (HWCU) are indisputable evidence that “We Won”!
Let me quickly explain. Way back in the 1960s when Grambling had James Harris (QB) and Louisiana Tech had some guy named Terry Bradshaw (QB), we pleaded with Tech for a battle.
We wanted to compete against “them” on the field. We wanted to prove that “we” the “20th century Negro people” were able to win on the gridiron. LA Tech knew then “they” could NOT win against Grambling on the field at that time.
A review of team rosters would have revealed that the Grambling State University Tigers Team was manned with the biggest, strongest, fastest, athletes in the country and yes they were “Black”. Historical racism and bigotry aside LA Tech knew that they could NOT successfully compete with us then. This was the REAL reason “they” would not agree to a football game against us “then”.
Now, “Flash forward” to the 21st century! The color green ($$$) now out shines the colors and culture of “black-vs.-white.” Winning has trumped ethnic discrimination.
Fielding the best and most superior athletes regardless of their ethnicity became the ultimate necessity for filling football stadiums and ringing up revenues for colleges and Universities.
For this reason HWCU’s who became tired of losing to schools that were winning with the most superior athletes regardless of their ethnicity began recruiting the best athletes (some say) money could ah, “recruit.” Now, “THEY” were “ready for football!”
My love for Grambling and the incomparable education I gained there allows me to continue to love GSU while accepting the reality of “OUR Victory” over racism and bigotry. This is our dilemma; those of us who fought and prayed for equal rights and fair access are now confronted with the reality that equality brings extraordinary new challenges. The dream of a small HBCU institution’s victory over a HWCU is very likely ever to be possible again. Yes, I said it. Not because Grambling can’t play at the highest level of excellence but because there are no longer any pure bread Historically White Colleges and Universities (HWCUs). I’d better explain myself here I’m sure.
Lets’ take the 56-0 (TCU-vs.-GSU) game as an alert for our future. TCU has many Black athletes on their roster who could not likely have been Team Members before integration (equal access and all of that).
He and two other West Monroe Black Athletes along with others from Metairie and Baton Rouge, LA would very likely have attended a HBCU back in the (pre-integration) days of the 20th Century. Before integration and “freedom” they would have almost certainly been Grambling, Jackson State or Southern University recruits.
These young black athletes are among the greatest and we should not bemoan their right to choose their preferred school but let’s “keep it real” here. Given a choice between playing for a Big Twelve Conference Team with national Television exposure offering the greatest possibilities for NFL recruitment versus playing for a great SWAC conference HBCU Team with wonderful people but minimal television exposure is rarely a difficult choice to make. It appears to me that they’ve made a wise career choice for an NFL future. I’ve sighted these talented young men because as they’ve graduated from LA high schools and chosen to advance their careers in Historically White Colleges and Universities we have to accept that it may no longer be possible for a Black College football team to win against a White College Football Team because there may not be any White College football Teams anymore. Check out their Team Rosters for yourself.
So, where is our “Victory?” WE have Victory in the fact that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s and our “dream” is becoming a reality. The dilemma is that “overcoming” racism challenges us with the need to rethink ways to compete more effectively for greater victories. In this case GSU-vs.-TCU is not a loss for GSU if we now accept the challenge to compete on a higher level and on very different playing fields.
Although this may be very difficult to accept emotionally, it is perhaps easier to understand metaphorically. 56-0 is NOT our “loss” it is evidence that the greatest Black athletes are accepted, desired and most competitively recruited by the every team regardless of ethnicity. TCU 56 -vs.- GSU 0 is our “Challenge” to go BEYOND our sentimental emotions of love for Dear Ol’ Grambling to find ways for GSU to compete on the now larger, more open and diverse fields and once again stand out throughout the world still as the place “Where Everybody is Somebody” and we are competing and winning against formidable challenges and new games.
Dr. Ernest A. Benson