September 09, 2021
By Amanda Scurlock
Before heading off to college, scholar athlete Jay’len Carter received a parting gift from a group of Manual Arts Alumni. The 1971 graduating class, known as “Dadisi,” celebrated their 50th anniversary by creating a scholarship. They chose to award Carter, a student of the 2021 class, with their scholarship.
Carter considers receiving the scholarship as “a special moment,” it taught him how hard work can produce great rewards.
“I’m definitely humbled and honored and I feel very appreciative,” Carter said. “They [did not] have to do it, I just appreciate them for recognizing my accomplishments.”
The Dadisi class wanted to do something special for their 50th year reunion and decided on creating a scholarship, which involved every member of the class donating $50 for the fund. They created a scholarship committee and researched students.
“I asked the Manual Arts counselor about other people who would be worthy of an academic scholarship,” said Dadisi class of 1971 chairperson Brenda Richardson-Mitchell. “His name was one of the other few and the committee voted on Jay’len.”
Carter was unable to compete in basketball during his senior year because Manual Arts did not put COVID-19 protocols in place to host athletic competitions. Instead of transferring to pursue basketball, Carter stayed at Manual Arts because he had the grades to be valedictorian.
“I thought it was beautiful by him being a valedictorian,” said Debra Harrison-Porter who is a member of the scholarship committee.
The class of 1971 also hosted a virtual reunion celebration and invited Carter to attend. This is the first time this graduating class established a scholarship.
“I’m really excited to be a part of this historical event with this young man who has proven to be really worthy,” said Dadisi class member Gwendolyn Scott. “His parents have done a wonderful job and he’s consumed all that they have taught him.”
Carter is the first African American student athlete valedictorian in the 111-year history of Manual Arts. This makes him worthy of Manual Art’s Hallway of Honor, a display on campus that highlight’s Manual Art’s notable alumni.
“I’m just so happy that Jay’len is the recipient of their scholarship,” said Myra Porter-Robertson, who helps orchestrate events for all the alumni classes at Manual Arts. “I hope some of the other classes will follow suit.”
Along with rewarding him with scholarship money, the class of 1971 gave Carter a plaque for his hard work. The Toiler pride is strong in Carter as his father, Darwin Carter, also attended Manual Arts and graduated in 1995. He describes the younger Carter as “a bright kid,” he noted that being valedictorian outweighed being a basketball player.
“We bleed purple and that’s just what it is,” Darwin said. “The alumni itself are coming out and showing love to the younger generation, I think that’s one of the greatest things that could ever happen.”
Dadisi is a Swahili word, translating into the word inquisitive, their class motto is “We carry this torch casting a bright light on the path of our future.”
Along with him being a stellar student-athlete, Carter has a strong relationship with God. He also knows the importance of a strong work ethic.
“A Toiler is a hard worker,” Carter said. “Taking that particular trait and carrying it over in anything I do is one of my standards, that’s what Manual (Arts) taught me.”
September 09, 2021
Sentinel News Service
via National Football Foundation
Sam “Bam” Cunningham, a 2010 College Football Hall of Fame inductee who starred at fullback for Southern California from 1970-72, passed away Sept. 7 in Inglewood, California. He was 71.
“Sam Cunningham left a huge impact both on and off the field and not just at USC but nationwide,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “From leading the Trojans to a national title to helping inspire the integration of southern football, Sam's legacy will live on forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
“Sam was the most gifted fullback I’ve ever known in terms of his speed, in terms of his ability to focus and as a great team player,” said NFF Board Member and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Lynn Swann, who was a teammate of Cunningham at USC in the early 1970s.
“He could have actually run as a tailback for USC. With his speed and his size, it would have been unbelievable to see him at tailback. But John McKay wanted him to be the fullback, and as we all know, it became a bit of a legend with Sam going over the top of an offensive line. Nobody could stop him.”
“Sam was a very happy, energetic person who always made me feel better because I was able to know him,” said NFF Board Members and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Lott, who played at USC after Cunningham.
“We're talking about one of the great Trojans who literally created a legacy for so many people who continue to come after him. I hope that we all pray for his family and for his friends and for his loved ones. To me there was no greater Trojan to be around than Sam.”
Cunningham earned the nickname “Bam” for his bruising goal line dives throughout his career with the Trojans. During his three years at USC, the Trojans posted a 24-8-2 record while he became the university's greatest rushing fullback with 1,579 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach John McKay, Cunningham rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries against Alabama as a rookie in his first game.
His performance that day in 1970 against the Crimson Tide is credited for inspiring College Football Hall of Fame coach Paul “Bear” Bryant to integrate southern college football.
“If there’s one legacy, which is huge, and I make no qualms about it: the entire SEC, especially Alabama, owes Sam Cunningham, a tremendous debt of thanks and appreciation for his play that opened the door to Black athletes in 1970,” said Swann.
“There are a lot of athletes who have done their share and more to end discrimination in so many ways. But Sam opened a huge door in the South and in that conference, which did more for minorities and young Black men to have the opportunity to play in the SEC and get an education.
It's one of the one of the most significant accomplishments that was a byproduct of his ability to play football.”
“A lot of a lot of times, when you watch people play, you can feel their presence,” said Lott. “One of the great things that day was Sam creating a dynamic where a lot of people felt his presence and how he belonged and others belonged. I think that there were so many guys on that team that will tell you that that was a incredible moment.
For so many Black players to be able to play in that game and show their value and create an environment where one of the greatest coaches said to himself I gotta find a way to make sure I integrate our team…
That moment clearly played an incredible role in college football. We're all indebted to Sam not only for that game, but all the things that he accomplished after that.”
A member of the Trojans’ 1972 national championship team, Cunningham was named the player of the game after scoring four touchdowns in the 1973 Rose Bowl against Ohio State – a modern-era Rose Bowl record.
He was the team's Back of the Year and a team captain of that 1972 squad that many feel is among the greatest college teams of all-time and also featured Hall of Famers Anthony Davis, Lynn Swann, Richard Wood and Charles Young.
A 1972 First Team All-American, Cunningham played in the 1973 Hula Bowl, College All-Star Game and Coaches All-America Game.
The Santa Barbara, California, native was inducted into the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1992.
Drafted 11th overall in the 1973 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, he played all nine seasons of his pro career with the franchise. He was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team in 1978, and he is a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.
Following his football career, Cunningham was active in raising money for cancer and worked as a landscape contractor in Inglewood, California.
When his brother Randall Cunningham (UNLV) was inducted in 2016, they became the eighth set of brothers to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
In addition to Randall, he is survived by his wife, Cine, and daughter, Samahndi, a USC graduate, as well as two other brothers Bruce and Anthony.
Services are pending.
September 02, 2021
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
On the 58th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-led March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the march for voting rights took center stage in Washington, D.C.
About 50 miles to the north of Washington in the unincorporated community of Owings Mills, Maryland, another kind of history took place as the latest march proceeded.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan met with a contingent from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), including President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
(Dr. Chavis served as youth coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and on the advance team for Dr. King and participated in the 1963 march), and executive administrator Claudette Perry.
The commissioner also sat for an exclusive interview with the 81-year-old NNPA, the trade association representing the hundreds of Black-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the 194-year-old Black Press of America.
It marked the first time a commissioner from one of America’s major league sports agreed to a one-on-one interview with the Black Press.
“Did it take too long for the NNPA and the PGA TOUR to begin working together? Yes,” Monahan admitted.
“Can we work together now – listen to and learn from each other now – as part of a shared commitment to ensuring golf stands as a game for all? Yes, I firmly feel and believe that, too,” he stated.
Earlier this year, the PGA Tour and the NNPA entered a memorandum of understanding.
Both organizations agreed to work diligently toward raising awareness of the benefits offered people of color in and around golf.
The NNPA will have full access to press conferences, some players, and specific tournaments like the BMW Championships in Owings Mills.
Monahan personally invited the NNPA to the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Florida next March.
The NNPA, which entered a similar arrangement with the PGA of America, anticipates that the PGA Tour will initiate advertising and sponsorship campaigns in member newspapers and BlackPressUSA.com.
Monahan said the NNPA could help further golf’s messaging and action taken on diversity, equity, and inclusion by highlighting the PGA Tour’s massive impact with its programs with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the Advocates Professional Golf Association (APGA) Tour.
“Together, we can be part of the solution in inspiring the next generation to know and feel that our great game is for everyone,” Monahan stated.
Monahan said he grew up in a family that loved the game, but of course, never imagined becoming PGA Tour commissioner.
He acknowledged that historically the game hasn’t always welcomed African Americans but assured that has changed. He said more work remains.
“One year ago, I pledged that the PGA TOUR would be part of the conversation and the solution surrounding racial and social injustices in our society. I also said then that, candidly, we didn’t know exactly what to do right away, but that we wouldn’t be deterred,” Monahan offered.
“Does it feel like it was in the distant past? Absolutely not. What we’ve done since is commit to communicate, learn, show compassion, and – ultimately – demand better. That started with – and, frankly, continues with – doing a lot more listening than talking,” he asserted.
Monahan discussed the PGA Tour’s 10-year, $100 million pledge to supporting racial equity and inclusion efforts, as well as its initiatives with HBCUs and the APGA Tour.
“Those are programs that we’re pleased to have underway,” Monahan said.
“We hope that, as the careers of these talented, young HBCU players progress, they’ll then be able to play their way into additional opportunities like two others we’re excited to share,” he further declared.
Another program that the PGA Tour hopes will encourage the participation of more golfers of color is the 2022 APGA Farmers Insurance Invitation that’s played opposite of the Tour event at Torrey Pines, where the top three ranked players receive invites to participate. Monahan also touted the PGA Tour’s partnership with First Tee, a youth development organization that teaches life skills and helps kids build their strength of character through golf. In August, 40 teenagers from around the country were selected for the inaugural Summit.
“Another significant focus for the PGA TOUR is a reinforced commitment to First Tee, particularly within marginalized and underserved areas of communities and training more coaches from diverse backgrounds to serve as mentors at our chapters,” Monahan remarked.
“First Tee is working diligently on a $200 million fundraising campaign, of which more than $120 million has already been raised, with a portion of those dollars also going toward the direct financial support of diversity and inclusion initiatives,” the commissioner exclaimed.
He also called attention to the career of Cameron Champ, an African American and a three-time winner of the PGA Tour.
“He learned the game at Foothill Golf Course in Sacramento – a par three course, now run by his Cameron Champ Foundation – where his father, Jeff, would tell him the planes he heard overhead were Tiger Woods coming back from tournaments to get him to practice longer.”
“He eventually realized they weren’t. Cameron was incredibly close to his grandfather, Mack, who began teaching Cameron the game starting at age 2 until his passing. This year, the Cameron Champ Foundation hosted the inaugural Mack Champ Invitational in his name, a premier tournament for juniors from diverse backgrounds.”
Monahan observed that Champ’s story – is that of three generations of Black men enjoying golf and positively impacting the next generation.
“The hope is that becomes the norm,” he said.
In addition to its grant program with HBCUs, the PGA Tour has expanded collaboration with those institutions.
It includes a United Airlines sponsored arrangement where each of the current 51 men’s and women’s HBCU golf programs will receive a $10,000 grant.
“We’re thankful to United Airlines for taking the initiative and supporting the HBCU program, which will allow so many schools to travel to and compete in new events for the first time. We look forward to announcing full program details soon,” Monahan stated.
He concluded: “I’m so proud of what our organization, our tournaments and our players have accomplished in the last year, but we still have a long way to go – and a lot to learn. At the 2020 TOUR Championship, I pledged that the PGA TOUR would be part of the conversation and the solution surrounding racial and social injustices in our society. We launched our commitment of at least $100 million over 10 years – headed by our Vice President of Community and Inclusion Marsha Oliver – to support racial equity and inclusion efforts. Our North Star is simple – to grow our impact, our game and as a result of these efforts, our business. Our goal is to weave diversity and inclusion into all fabrics of the PGA TOUR, and that’s what we’ve been working diligently to do.”
August 26, 2021
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior National Correspondent
In 2011, Black Girls Golf was just an idea.
After spending several years in Corporate America, Tiffany Mack Fitzgerald said she noticed how many opportunities were available to her male golf colleagues.
She decided to learn the game and create opportunities to build better professional relationships and connect with people in positions of power and influence.
On the group’s website, Fitzgerald said she learned the game but felt intimidated by the rules.
She said the learning curve seemed impossible, and she felt invisible yet again.
Two years later, Fitzgerald invited her friends to join her on a golf course in Atlanta. Twenty-six women showed up, and Black Girls Golf went from idea to a sisterhood.
Black Girls Golf has come a long way since then, with Fitzgerald featured in Women’s Golf Journal, Black Enterprise Magazine, and several sports and business radio shows and publications to promote golf diversity and share her experience as a golfer.
Black Girls Golf has also established the Black Girls Golf Foundation, a 501(c)(3) to create a more diverse pipeline of leaders in the golf industry.
Fitzgerald told CNN that participation has skyrocketed during the pandemic and Black Girls Golf now has more than 4,000 members in chapters across the country.
“Black women make up less than one percent of the golf industry’s workforce, so a huge part of our mission is introducing girls to the career opportunities that are available in golf. And for professional women, there are so many benefits, including health and wellness,” Fitzgerald said.
She noted that the game provides enormous health benefits – both physically and mentally.
“For me, it’s been a huge stress relief, which helps my mental health so much,” she proclaimed.
“You kind of forget what’s happening in day-to-day life because most golf courses are so beautiful. And nature sometimes can be really serene, and it helps calm you and reduce your stress levels.”
She told CNN that golf also teaches essential skills that transfer to everyday life, such as discipline and self-acceptance.
“There are so many parallels with golf in life, you know, hitting a bad shot and being able to let it go,” Fitzgerald noted.
“Golf forces you to forgive yourself, to be patient, and certainly focus on the task at hand.”
Medical experts told CNN that playing golf releases hormones that lower stress and anxiety and improve memory.
Research suggests the sport’s social nature may also contribute to golfers’ longer life spans.
“Golf can put you in situations where you would never find yourself and next to people that you would never ever have met,” Fitzgerald insisted, adding that networking on the course could lead to future professional opportunities off the course.