A Commitment to Black Excellence
By Levi Edwards | Digital Team Reporter
"A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything."
Those words, emphatically stated by visionary and civil rights activist Malcolm X in 1963, are figuratively tattooed on my heart. I wear black-rimmed brow line glasses in his honor.
And while it's a quote that's near and dear to many, including myself, it's easy in today's society to fall instead of stand, to conform instead of evolve.
Many would maintain that the quality of life is better for African Americans than it was when Malcolm X said those words. But I can personally attest that there's much that could – and should – be better for all people of color.
The Raiders organization historically has been on the right side of Black history. Or, one could say, history in general.
I say "history in general" because I'm a firm believer Black history can't be confined to just one month of the year for the sake of commercialism, hashtags and a mere 28 days of factoids. Black history should be seen as American history — and the Raiders' culture and tradition of prioritizing diversity and social justice within the NFL should be prided just as much as anything the football team has accomplished on the field.
The year 1963 was critical in U.S. history. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed during the March on Washington punctuated an extremely intense year, as Jim Crow laws were pervasive in the South.
In August of that year, the Oakland Raiders were scheduled to play a preseason game against the New York Jets at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama – the long-standing location of the Senior Bowl.
Mobile – 260 miles south of my hometown of Birmingham – was steeped in segregation. Despite their status as world-class professional athletes, the Oakland Raiders' African American players were mandated to sleep and eat at lower-quality establishments than their white teammates – and then play in front of thousands of fans separated solely because of the pigmentation of their skin.
That didn't sit right with them.