This past week I read and heard of something that I believe speaks and addressed this matter in a rather unique way. Writer Andrew Maraniss had an excellent piece in the The Tennessean Friday, September 30th.
Ed Temple, an African-American man passed away recently. To a large majority of people who might read this or heard of his passing I feel comfortable in saying that ninety plus percent have no idea who he was. Just a bit of information on Mr. Temple. I would like to call him "Coach Temple." For forty-four (1953-1994) years Coach Temple was the Head Women's Track and Field Coach at Tennessee State University in Nashville,Tennessee. A predominate all black university. Some said he was the greatest coach ever.
*During his coaching days at TSU he produced forty members of the famed Tigerbelle teams that participated in the Olympics. (I said 40--no other coach in any sport can say such)
*Head coach of the Women's Olympic Team in 1960 and 1964
*His teams won thirty-four national titles and eight of his Tigerbelles are in National Track & Field Hall of Fame.
*Member of nine different Halls of Fame--Including U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
A few years back a very small private elementary school(New Hope Academy) in the county where my wife and I live (Williamson, TN) adopted Mr. Temple. Mr. Temple in his latter years was living alone in a senior citizens assisting living facility in Nashville. Every year on his birthday and on other occasions the school would invite and sometimes physically go and pick-up Coach Temple bringing him to their school to honor and celebrate with him his birthday. Every student and teacher at this school would gather in the school's library for the parties and often other celebrities would be in attendance. Mr. Temple would tell stories of his experiences as a coach, teacher and world traveler. It is said that the kids loved hearing his many stories and they got to know him, the person and not just some legend in a book or magazine.
"It's our friend Coach Temple's birthday party."
I know absolutely nothing about this school or its administrators but I salute them in their efforts to help bring about a better understanding of the people of this world and our communities. Maybe that should help each of us ask ourselves what can we do as one or as a community to bring about a better place in which to live. Sometimes just sitting down with someone of a different skin color or background as ours can help bring about a better understanding between two people and hopefully then that can be multiplied.
You know the school could have "taught" from a book, used social media, etc. about racial understanding, tolerance on the part of all people, races and that would be good. But I think even better was taking the time to think how could a situation an environment be created where people from both races literally are brought together to be in each other's company.
Coach Temple passed away September 22, 2016. The school was called together on the morning following Mr. Temple's passing. An administrator with the school told the following story: "A little boy shared with me that sometimes when people get real sick they go to heaven to see if God will heal them, but once they get there they love it so much they don't want to come back."
Coach Temple often said:
"Do not dwell on not having but dwell on what you are going to have."
October 5, 2016