by Dr. E. Faye Williams
(Trice Edney Wire)-It’s football season again! Let’s talk about the best of sports. It’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities Sports! Being a graduate of Grambling University, I’m obviously a football fan! I attended Howard University Law School, but that’s another story when it comes to sports! At Grambling, we’ve had so many great athletes on great teams whether baseball, basketball, football, etc.! I could never talk about the successes of Grambling without remembering the one and only Coach Eddie Robinson who was a dear friend for many years. Because we’ve had so many greats, we at Grambling have no problem honoring those who played well on other teams.
There’s something about Historically Black Colleges and Universities that allows us to cheer for other athletes from our competitors. This week I’ve had the honor of spending time with two former football players from Florida A&M University—Rick Anderson, Florida A&M Sports Hall of Famer, and Henry Lawrence, former Raiders offensive tackle. We kid each other about our great college victories over them, and they occasionally have a time they can do the same with those of us from Grambling. We never have differences about Grambling’s legendary head football coach, Eddie Robinson. No matter where men play, even players of other races who neither attended Grambling nor Florida A&M loved and admired Coach Robinson.
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with one of Henry’s former teammates with the silver and black Raiders. The teammate we visited is The Honorable Burgess Owens of Utah, and despite his being a member of another party, he’s still one of us, and I was happy to meet him. Ordinarily, we Democrats know who new Congressmen and Congresswomen are as soon as one of us comes to Washington because we almost always know the struggles they’ve had before winning a Congressional race. Congressman Owens is a hidden jewel. Representing Utah may have been a bit misleading, but I want you to know him. He allowed me to wear his championship ring in a photo op at his office!
Having run for Congress myself and coming up short by less than ½ percent, I can identify with those who’ve been the best candidate by far, not only for the community in which we grew up, but for everybody, yet didn’t have enough support from those who rule even if we were in the same political party. That, too, was the case for Henry Lawrence from Palmetto, Florida after his football days were over.
We know; however, we still have a responsibility to continue succeeding in whatever we do. In Henry’s case, after his days in professional football were over, he returned home to Florida and is a hero to those who know him. He’s not called a hero just because he played football, but because he’s a servant for the good of all people.
Although as a player, Henry was known by his teammates as “Killer”, he’s one of the nicest guys you could ever know who played for the Silver and Black! I would add “one of the nicest guys you could know anywhere.” Even John Madden said Henry was like a son to him! Henry and John appeared to have had mutual admiration. About Madden, Henry said, “He was a guy that could relate to the little guy and the big guy.” Henry had the honor of doing a musical tribute to his coach at his service.
Henry is a very talented musician and a loyal member of the Florida A&M Family. Among his many honors, he’s received the Jesse Owens Achievement Award for his athletic excellence, but I find him to be so much more than an athlete. He’s a wonderful human being!
(Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. (Ret.) (President of The Dick Gregory Society; and President Emerita of the National Congress of Black Women.)