Recently, I had to answer a question about the hiring of a Caucasian head football coach at a traditional black college.
In my opinion, I believe hiring a white head football coach at a traditional black college could be good for America. First, there are too many dividers in the United States today, and I feel like the hiring of a Caucasian coach at a historically black college will help to eventually break down walls of division that exist today. Furthermore, I strongly believe in the dream that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Shared that someday his children and future generations would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. Lastly, I was coached by a woman in high school baseball, a sport dominated by male coaches, and she by far was the best and most knowledgeable coach I have ever had the privilege of playing for.
I cannot write this opinion without acknowledging the fact that HBCU’s has provided an opportunity to African Americans that would not have otherwise existed. HBCU’s are an integral part of African American culture in the United States. The history of racism in this country is appalling. It is important to understand that these universities have played vital educational opportunities to people who have suffered from cruel treatment and discrimination.
Younger generations are more diverse than ever before. They are interracial, and the popular culture they are exposed to is also. Eminem and Darius Rucker are examples of artists who have found fame in genres that are typically dominated by other races. Countless white basketball fans wear Kevin Durant, Steph Curry or Lebron James jerseys. It is my opinion that the blending of races through sports and popular culture have helped to tear down walls of division. I can understand the point of view of older Americans who experienced the horror of racism first hand. I too, would be reluctant to accept a Caucasian head coach at Alcorn State if I were African American and experienced racism. However, I believe it is time for this nation to heal and this could help.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was absolutely the right person to help bring about social change and to end the injustices of the past. Obviously, one of the 20th century’s most gifted and powerful speakers, his philosophy of nonviolence reached the hearts and minds of people all over America. His dream to see his children have opportunities that other children had speaks to me as a father. He didn’t want opportunities denied to his children because of their race.
Lastly, I had a unique experience playing high school baseball. I played for a female head coach, in the mid 1980’s, at a small high school in rural Arkansas. Coach Smith worked tirelessly to upgrade our field. In fact, her picture in the yearbook one year was her on a tractor working on the baseball field. Not only did she work hard on the field, she was also very knowledgeable as well. She knew the game as well as any man in my world at that time. Most importantly, I know she cared deeply about her players. She helped me overcome some life difficulties outside of baseball and school because of her love for me and my teammates. Coach Smith didn’t last long at that position. I suppose being a woman in a man’s sport was very difficult. I had the same position at the same school fifteen years later and received a small stipend of $750. I gained an even deeper appreciation for the work she did for such a small amount of money.
I am supportive of this hiring. I know I will never fully understand the struggle African Americans have faced in the United States. I do feel that the right person in that position could be just what the United States needs to help bring about real social change.
Jay Hopson coached at Alcorn State from 2012 until 2015. He averaged 8 wins a season and accumulated a recorded of 32-17.