It took me 45 years to get my exclusive one on one interview with Muhammad Ali to the big screen. November 23rd marked the 1st anniversary for the debut November 23, 2019 at the Miracle Theatre on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. On October 30, 1974 Muhammad Ali shocked the world when he knocked out the undisputed and undefeated 25 year-old George Foreman to become the heavyweight champion for second time. This was just his first shock.
Ali saved his second shock for his arrival back in the United States. Ali’s first call for an exclusive one on one interview was not to Ed Bradley (60 Minutes) not Bryant Gumble (NBC) and not Howard Cosell (ABC).
He made his first call to a little unknown sports talk show host in Washington, DC. He made Harold Bell “The Chosen One”. My show was heard on gospel W-U-S-T radio. Ali shocked the sports media again, but this time he didn’t change his name, he change his favorite sportscaster.
I would like to take this opportunity and thank those of you who made this great interview on the screen of the Miracle Theatre with “The Greatest” possible. First, my wife Hattie (we will also celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary on Monday), Rahman Ali, Rodney Brown and Wil Williams. Judge Luke Moore, John ‘Turk’ Edwards, Andrew Johnson, Lucy and Junebug Reamer, Keith and Dotie Wade, Furman Marshall, Lee Jones, Willie Wood, Roy Jefferson, George Nock, Marc Clarke, Maggie Linton, Jackie Jones, James Young, Gary Johnson, James and Carolyn Blount (About Time Magazine), Johnny Sample, Jim Clemons, Chuck Atkins, Don Baker, Larry Law, Harold Burke, Harry Horton, Victor Perry, Juliet Main, Ernest Clover, the No Name Band, Robin Sugar Williams, Shaza, Phila. Jake, Dog Turner, Zack, Slippery Jackson, Cornell Jones, Nook Williams, and cast of hundreds of others who lifted me up and refuse to let me fall.
I celebrate with a heavy heart that aches as we head into the Thanksgiving holidays 2020 it will also mark the deadliest year in the history of Black America. First, let me start with the deadly coronavirus it has killed close 260,000 Americans making it the most dangerous virus in American history, to complicate matters for Black America, driving or walking while black has made unarmed black men, women and children targets for racist cops in racist police departments across America.
Nearly 250 black women have been fatally shot by a cop since 2015. In 2020 one in every 1,000 black men in America can expect to be killed by police.
The risk of being or being killed by a cop peaks between the ages of 20 and 35 for black men, women and for all racial and ethnic groups. Black men and women are signifcantly more likely than white women and white men to be killed by a cop. Latino men are also more likely to be killed by a cop.
American Indian and Alaska native women and men face higher lifetime risk of being killed by police than do their white peers. One study found that Latina women and Asian Pacific Islander men face lower risk of being killedby police than do their white peers. The risk is higher for blackmen. For young men of color police use of force is among the leading causes of death.
Sadly, the trend of fatal police shootings in the U. S. seems to only be increasing, with a total 809 civilians having been shot to death as of October 2020, 157 of were black. In 2018, there were 996 fatal police shootings and in 2019 this figure increased to 1,004. Additionally the rate of fatal police shootings among black men America was much higher than for any other ethnic group. For blacks the fatal shootings stood at 32 shootings per million as of October 2020. Whites fatally shot to death by cops in October 2020 compared to blacks shot to death by cops reads, whites 311, blacks 157.
The white population as compared to the black population, whites out number blacks 2-1. With Trump adding 200+ white Federal Judges to benches making America again Justice & Just-Us. Add unemployment, inadequate health care and schools lacking equal education for our children will make an “Even Playing Field” almost impossible to find.
During my lifetime I have never experienced losing so many love ones, friends and associates dying in the same calendar year. This year has been especially difficult for family, my cousin Tommy lost his son and wife in the last two-months, my wife’s cousin Richard lost his wife of 52+ years.
I have lost several friends this year who were NFL Hall of Famers, three of them played for the same team, the Green Bay Packers. Willie Wood died in February, he is considered one of the greatest safeties to ever play in the NFL, his teammate Herb Adderly died in October. Herb was a shutdown cornerback for the Packers and Dallas Cowboys, and Paul Hornung died November13, 2020. Long before Dion Sanders famously split time between the NFL and Major League Baseball, Paul Hornung pulled off the ultimate double-duty: serving in the Army reserved during the week and suiting up for the 1961 Green Bay Packers on the weekends.
If anyone ever tells you sports and politics don’t mix, just remind them that President John F. Kennedy signed off on Hornung to play for the Green Bay Packers on weekends in 1961. Paul helped the Packers win their first Super Bowl, he scored 19 of the Packers 37 points when they shutout the New York Giants 37-0. Honung was known as the Golden Boy because of his good looks and his curly blond hair. He was a playboy and lady’s man, a champion, a broadcaster, a philanthropist and a high stakes gambler (he was suspended by the NFL for betting on his team to win in 1963).
He had a diverse range of pursuits, to be sure — but he will be most remembered for his versatility within the sport. He was beyond a triple threat he could run, pass, catch and kick. He was one of legends that was heard on my Inside Sports talk shows after his NFL career was over.
I met Paul through his teammate and my life time friend Willie Wood, Hornung and Herb became regulars on on my sports talk show Inside Sports long after their careers were over. I last saw and talked with Paul at a tribute and fundraiser I coordinated in 2007 for Willie. He died in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of 84 on November 13th after a long battle with dementia. All three Packer stars died as a result of dementia.
The great NFL Hall of Fame Line Backer Sam Huff was also in attendance for the tribute. He also now suffers from dementia. Lets keep Sam and the families of Willie Wood, Herb Adderly and Paul Hornung all in prayer.
I thank them for their Hall of Fame contributions not to just the NFL, but also their Hall of Fame reach-back efforts to enhance the growth and development of those less fortunate than themselves. They are gone, but not forgotten.
A TRIBUTE TO THE ARTIST & MAN GEORGE NOCK
In the wee hours of Saturday morning I received an email from my friend Professor Jackie Jones of Morgan State University. Her email said, my brother in the struggle and former NFL running back for the New York Jets and the Washington Football team George Nock had died of the coronavirus.
A Message from the Office of the President read:
Mourning the Passing of a Beloved Morgan Alumnus George Nock November 22, 2020
Dear Morgan Community,
Earlier today, I learned of the passing of George Nock class of 1969 graduate of Morgan State University. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Mary, and the entire Nock family on their loss. Morgan held a special place in George’s heart and the feeling was mutual. I was fortunate to have gotten to know him personally and considered him a good friend. I accompanied him and members of the 1966 “Golden Bears” Football team when they were recognized during the 2015 Citrus Bowl. It was an extremely emotional experience for George and his teammates for not only what they were able to accomplish on the field but for also what they were able to accomplish culturally by integrating America’s collegiate Bowl system with their appearance in the Tangerine Bowl. It was also an emotional experience for me to see them relieving those memories.
Upon graduating from Morgan, George Nock went onto play in the National Football League before settling on a successful career as an artist and sculptor. George was generous in volunteering his artistic services in memorializing two legendary figures in Morgan’s history – coaches Edward P. (“Eddie”) Hurt and Earl C. (“Papa Bear”) Banks. In 2017, Morgan unveiled Legends Plaza, a nearly 2,000-square-foot enclosure featuring six-foot bronze statues of the two legendary coaches, all of which was designed and created according to George’s artistic vision. George Nock will be missed as the Morgan Community collectively mourns his passing. He was a very good man, an outstanding Morganite, and his work will live on at his alma mater.
David Kwabena Wilson,
President Morgan State University
George Nock had my back in everything community, celebrity fashions (model), Santa’s helper (Christmas toy parties), Thanksgiving baskets, celebrity tennis tournaments, speaker for school outings, when I was named Washingtonian of the Year in 1980 he was there, etc. I emailed the link to the National Black Journalist 2020 pioneer award I received in September thanking him for making this all possible, but I never received a response. I now understand why. https://www.bigmarker.com/nabj/NABJ-Sam-Lacy-Awards-Program?bmid=99ea2ef240f2 /
When my high school coach decided to retire I made up my mind to pay tribute thanking him for saving so many us who were trying to go to hell in a hurry, before he stepped in and shown us a better way. It was tuff love sometimes, but it was love. I asked George to create a painting to be presented to Coach Brown from his former athletes. Several days George called asking me to provide him with photos of the athletes I wanted in the painting. Two days later he had the painting ready for the presentation. It was a knockout!
He was an unbelievable human being. You could carry his word to the bank. My brother-in-law Reggie Thomas when he heard that George had gone home to be with the Lord said, “He was a better artist then he was an athlete.” I disagreed only because an injury had cut his NFL career with the Washington Football team short. I thought again what Reggie had said and I agreed with him. I could only think about the great athlete he could have become, but I was an eye-witness to the great artist and human being he became. My brother in the struggle, he is gone but not forgotten. I never could have made it without him.