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COMMENTARY: Ben Coleman was a local hero to many

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By Ken Foxworth

“I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humanity and his integrity.”  — Dr. Frank Wilderson, University of Minnesota V.P.

It is rare when you hear African American males describe about another male using these words:  hero, honest, role model, mentor, integrity and most importantly, how he loved his community. One man spoken of in this way was named Ben Coleman; he passed away January 6, 2019.

People often think and talk about the negative things coming from Minneapolis North, but it is past time for us to talk about some of the good things. The first scholarship athlete at the University of Minnesota who graduated from North High School (aka Minneapolis North) was a football player named Richard Armstrong in 1976. The first basketball scholarship student-athlete from Minneapolis North was Ben Coleman.

One of Coleman’s greatest fans is Dr. Michael Favor, Football Hall of Fame All-American from North Dakota State University, former principal of Minneapolis North, and present principal of Southwest High School in Minneapolis. He said, “As an African American male growing up on the North Side, Ben Coleman was one of many of my heroes.

“Ben is and was a hero to me not only for his success at North High School, college, and in the pros. He was that hero that we could reach out to, so proud of his Minnesota roots and constantly giving back to so many,” Favor said.

Although my passion was football, I attended the Ben Coleman Basketball Camps because I wanted to be like Ben — a successful student athlete, an entrepreneur, and someone who was fully committed to giving back to the North Side community. I am truly thankful to have had Ben Coleman in my life. I offer my condolences to his family and friends and thank them for allowing Ben to be part of my life.

When Coleman came to the University of Minnesota in 1979-81, he was with some of the school’s greatest basketball players: Gary Cookie Holme, Mark Hall, Trent Tucker, Randy Brewers, Jim Peterson. His roommate Zebedee Howell was one of his closest friends on the team. Four of his teammates also played for the NBA.

Holme said, “Coleman was a great guy to be with on and off the court. His personality and his love for the game was always there. I was stunned that he always talked about North High School and how that was an important tool to go back and help his community.”

When Coleman transferred to the University of Maryland he did not know what to expect, but the fans and the coaches loved him. One of the sportswriters, Don Markus from The Baltimore Sun, wrote, “Had he spent four years at Maryland rather than just two, Ben Coleman’s name might appear on the school’s list of all-time scorers and rebounders. Instead he is in the record books as the player with the second-highest shooting percentage behind Buck Williams.

“Had Coleman spent his entire college career as a Terp [Terrapin] rather than transferring in as a junior following two seasons with his hometown Minnesota Gophers, Lefty Driesell might have won another ACC tournament title — maybe an NCAA title — with the 6’-9” forward’s help.

“As it was,” said Markus, “Driesell’s only ACC tournament championship in his 17 seasons came during Coleman’s senior year in 1983-84 when he and rising sophomore star Len Bias shared team-high scoring honors at 15.3 points. Coleman led the Terps in rebounding.”

“Ben was there for just two years, but he’s a true Terrapin,’ said former Maryland star Adrian Branch, who played three years with Coleman and later was a teammate of his and Williams with the New Jersey Nets.

It was incredible that Coleman was drafted in the 1984 second round for the Chicago Bulls while in the first round was one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan, who played for North Carolina. Coleman played European League Basketball as well as for the NBA Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, and the Detroit Pistons.

After his professional career was over, Coleman became involved in his community by teaching and showing others how to become entrepreneurs and philanthropists. He truly believed and practiced what the Bible says: “If you give a man a fish he will live for one day, but if you teach a man to fish he will live a lifetime.”

To the Honorable Ben Coleman, thank you for teaching us how to fish! You were truly, truly a great man with a great legacy indeed.

This article originally appeared in Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Statement on 80th Anniversary of D-Day

Representative Barbara Lee (CA-12) released the following statement on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. “80 years ago, one of the largest invasions in historical warfare—and the start to the end of World War II—took place. Today, we look back to the over 2,400 American lives lost on the beaches of Normandy, remember their stories, and honor their immense bravery.

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“D-Day will forever live on in history. May we honor their lives and all who have served by investing in veterans’ health care, economic security, and opportunity when they return home.”
“D-Day will forever live on in history. May we honor their lives and all who have served by investing in veterans’ health care, economic security, and opportunity when they return home.”

Washington, D.C.  – Representative Barbara Lee (CA-12) released the following statement on the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“80 years ago, one of the largest invasions in historical warfare—and the start to the end of World War II—took place. Today, we look back to the over 2,400 American lives lost on the beaches of Normandy, remember their stories, and honor their immense bravery.

“My father, Lt. Col. Garvin A. Tutt, was a Buffalo soldier in the 92nd infantry, a racially segregated and Black-only division that was instrumental in the success of Normandy and the Allied advance. Today and every day, I think of him and all of the brave servicemembers who sacrificed for our country, even when our country didn’t love them back.

“D-Day will forever live on in history. May we honor their lives and all who have served by investing in veterans’ health care, economic security, and opportunity when they return home.”

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Activism

U.S. Rep. Kamlager-Dove Leads Discussion on Improving Black Student Learning, Test Scores

Kamlager-Dove, who represents a district that covers parts of Los Angeles County, hopes that ideas shared at the event can be incorporated into models that can impact other regions across California, where Black students continue to fall behind their peers of other races and ethnicities.

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Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) moderates a panel including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education during Roundtable on Equity in Education for Los Angeles Unified School District (R to L) beside Kamlager-Dove Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer, Los Angeles USD; Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Keith Linton, Founder, Boys to Gentlemen, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and LAUSD student Jonathan McGee. Photo by Lila Brown (CBM).
Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) moderates a panel including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education during Roundtable on Equity in Education for Los Angeles Unified School District (R to L) beside Kamlager-Dove Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer, Los Angeles USD; Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Keith Linton, Founder, Boys to Gentlemen, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and LAUSD student Jonathan McGee. Photo by Lila Brown (CBM).

By Lila Brown, California Black Media

On April 8, U.S. Congressmember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37) moderated a roundtable focused on Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) strategies to improve Black student performance in classrooms.

Kamlager-Dove, who represents a district that covers parts of Los Angeles County, hopes that ideas shared at the event can be incorporated into models that can impact other regions across California, where Black students continue to fall behind their peers of other races and ethnicities.

Discussions at the event centered on LAUSD’s Black Student Achievement Plan (BSAP) and other educational initiatives aimed at enhancing learning and boosting test scores.

“The Black Student Achievement Plan is unique in that it takes a community-centered approach to uplifting Black students,” said Kamlager-Dove during the event held at John Muir Middle School in Los Angeles.

“We must implement culturally responsive education in the classroom to challenge our students academically while giving them a sense of purpose,” she continued.

In 2023, nearly 70% of Black children in California fell below a passing mark on the state standardized English Language Arts exam, and only about 20% of those students were performing at grade level based on their scores on the math assessment test.

A variety of public education experts joined Kamlager on the panel, including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer at LAUSD; Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor and Dean at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education; and Keith Linton, founder of the non-profit Boys to Gentlemen. 

Jonathan McGee, a student who sits on the BSAP Student Advisory Council, also spoke during the panel.

The BSAP was approved by the LAUSD Board of Education in February of the 2020-21 school year. Funds have been earmarked to address the longstanding disparities in educational outcomes between Black students and their non-Black peers. Dating back to the landmark case, Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional, positive outcomes for Black students continue to lag behind district and national averages for their non-Black counterparts.

Edogun-Ticey spoke about broader investments the federal government is making in education that directly impact Black students through The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.

‘This administration did not shy away from the idea that we need resources for support which means billions of dollars in investment for HBCUs,” she explained.

BSAP strategies include partnering with Black families and local community; supporting the implementation of culturally and linguistically responsive and anti-racist practices; offering wrap-around support structures; and highlighting experiences that uplift the contributions of the Black community as motivation and models to develop positive Black student identity. Additionally, the BSAP provides increased staffing to support Black students’ academic and social-emotional needs.

“School districts across the country must push back against attacks on marginalized students by implementing programs like the BSAP, which should serve as a model for future initiatives,” Kamlager said.

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