Ernie Davis is the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. He was awarded the trophy in 1961. He played football for Syracuse University. He quickly garnered national attention during his first three years at Syracuse. He was voted Most Valuable Player in the 1960 Cotton Bowl and again in the 1961 Liberty Bowl. He was an admired athlete and even President John F. Kennedy requested to meet him.
Yet, during the Cotton Bowl, this beloved football player experienced southern racism and discrimination. There are two separate accounts regarding this particular part of his life. Author Jocelyn Selim wrote when Ernie Davis arrived at the banquet that was held after the Cotton Bowl, he was told he had to accept his award and then he would need to leave. He could not attend the banquet because it was a segregated facility. Ernie Davis refused and most of his white teammates left as well.
Here was an African-American man that was admired by the President of the United States and he could not attend a banquet. Many African-American youths have forgotten those that paved the way to equality and desegregation. Thousands of strong African-Americans manage to overcome discrimination and racism, and today all the efforts of these people have afforded opportunities to African-American youths that few use to their advantage.
Sadly, education is not a priority and too many African-American children grow up in violent neighborhoods with drugs on every street corner. It seems the efforts of those to advance the African-American community were in vain. Millions of African-American children still feel less than their Caucasian counter parts. It is time for the African-American community to acknowledge that the racism of the past is not responsible for the current issues facing African-American youths. The issue facing the community developed within the community. Too much time was wasted on rehashing the past instead of promoting a bright future.