Black athletes have long history of not sticking to sports (Associated Press, 2/2/2018)

This year’s NFL season featured two of America’s pastimes: football and race, with pre-game protests dividing fans along color lines and making Sunday afternoons among the most segregated hours in the country.

While some fans would prefer players stick to sports, many black athletes have chosen a different path by protesting, making people uncomfortable.

“The whole purpose of the demonstrations is to get (fans’) attention,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said in an interview with The Associated Press. “These are the people that ignore the fact that people are being shot dead in the street. They’ve found ways to ignore it.”

For weeks, some NFL players, most of them African-American, knelt silently on the sidelines as the national anthem played before kickoff. Their goal: to raise awareness about disparities in policing in communities of color , and about persistent, systemic racism in America.

It was a new approach to an age-old problem.

Analysis: Coin toss mirrors black experience beyond Olympics (Associated Press, 2/9/2018)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Shani Davis made history in 2006 when he became the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal at a Winter Olympics and the winningest man in American speedskating. So when the speedskater tweeted his outrage after losing the opportunity to represent Team USA as its flagbearer in Friday night’s opening ceremony, his #blackhistorymonth hashtag served as a kind of racial shorthand.

And it resonated with African-Americans far beyond sports.

For them, it was a familiar scenario: Despite being exceptional in a field dominated by whites, he was bypassed for a job he deserved. What’s more, when he pointed that out, he was shouted down as an ungrateful distraction.

From celebrities to corporate America, the slight was a reminder of what blacks regularly experience in a white world — a feeling that the game is rigged.

Commitment to King's unfinished work remains 50 years later (Associated Press, 4/1/2018)

ATLANTA — Tyrone Brooks was 22 years old and 400 miles away, seeking clues to an unsolved lynching as old as he was, when he got the news that Martin Luther King Jr. was dead. Stunned, Brooks dropped everything and drove to Memphis, crying all the way.

The next day, King’s closest confidant, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, told Brooks: “Tighten your belts and dry your tears. If you love Martin Luther King as you say you do, help me carry on his work.”

The members of King’s tight circle barely paused to grieve. They plunged into carrying out his unfinished work, and turned it into a lifelong vow.

Some went into politics. A few continued to serve the organization that King led or started their own. Others returned to the pulpit, preaching a gospel of racial liberation.

And the King legacy continues, evident today in a new generation protesting many of the same issues King confronted : inequality, police brutality and poverty.

2 black men arrested at Starbucks get apology from police (Associated Press, 4/20/2018)

PHILADELPHIA — Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn’t use the restroom because he wasn’t a paying customer.

He thought nothing of it when he and his childhood friend and business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting.

A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police came into the coffee shop — until officers started walking in their direction.

“That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson told The Associated Press in the first interview by the two black men since video of their April 12 trespassing arrests touched off a furor around the U.S. over racial profiling or what has been dubbed “retail racism” or “shopping while black.”

Cosby verdict met with conflicting emotions by some blacks (Associated Press, 4/28/2018)

PHILADELPHIA — It is difficult to overstate the pride, admiration and sense of ownership many black Americans felt watching Bill Cosby at the height of his career in the 1980s and ’90s.

As Dr. Cliff Huxtable, Cosby starred in a top-rated network sitcom about a loving, successful black couple and their wholesome children. “The Cosby Show” shifted the paradigm for millions of viewers for what a black family could look like. And it made Cosby an idol to many African-Americans in an era long before the country would see a black family living in the White House.

All of which explains why the comedian’s downfall Thursday was met with particular pain, disappointment and conflicted feelings in the black community. For many black people, news of Cosby’s sexual-assault conviction was hard to hear, even for fans who believed his accusers.

“We have been split from Day One about his innocence because of our need to have a hero that looks like us,” said Tarana Burke, the black woman who created the #MeToo hashtag in 2006 and recalled growing up listening to albums of Cosby’s comedy routines and later watching him as “America’s Dad.”

She warned against confusing Cosby with the roles he played.

“Cliff Huxtable was a good person, but that character doesn’t reflect the character of (Cosby’s) life,” Burke said. “Fat Albert is not a serial rapist. Bill Cosby is.”