Many years ago I gave a speech at a high school to commemorate Martin Luther King’s birthday.
Afterwards a mother told me about her son who was a good football player that was overlooked by colleges. He was a running back and defensive back with pretty good speed. She knew he was not a Division I player but believed he could play D-2 football. I met the kid also and he seemed nice and got good grades in school.
They wanted to know if I could help him get a crack at playing college football. I took their number and made a few phone calls. A few weeks later I heard from the woman and she said he’d gotten an opportunity to play at Ferris State University. I told the family I was happy for them and hoped the best for the boy and his future.
I wrote a column about it for the newspaper and the message was to remember the spirit and the words of Dr. King. We should help each other in his spirit. Most people enjoyed the message. However, I got more than a handful of angry phone calls from people who accused me of being racist.
To paraphrase the angry callers. They said I would never do this for a white kid. I only helped the kid and his mother because he was a black kid and that I am only interested in helping my own. One guy said I was not about equal opportunity for all. I was only interested in elevating black people.
I became very angry. People know nothing about you but they are not afraid to make huge assumptions. One of the callers left his number and invited me to call and debate him.
I called and allowed him to tell me why he was so upset. He went through his routine and had a smart ass laugh about how I am so one-sided.
Then I stopped him in his tracks.
I told him that he made a huge assumption. He heard Martin Luther King. He read a column from a black columnist and he lost focus.
The kid was white.
He immediately hung up.