Saturday, January 31, 2009


The most dominant defensive end of his era was just elected to the hall of fame. Fortunately, most of his career was here in Buffalo where he anchored the defense that carried the Bills to four Super Bowls.  My image of his patented spin move is one of the great memories from that run.

Mr. Wilson was finally elected.  He is 90 now and he too deserves the honor. Everything will stop in Buffalo during the induction ceremony just as it did when Marv, Jim and Thurman went in.

I have three more nominees from that great team.  AndrĂ© Reed did not make it today, but he should and he will.  There are only seven centers from the modern era in the hall; there should be at least one more, Kent Hull from that team.  Hull anchored the line that ran the "K-Gun" no huddle, called the line signals and moved the pile so Thurman could run to the next level.  Kent Hull should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

So should the little guy who never started a football game until very late in his career. Steve Tasker defined the modern special teamer and there will never be anyone like him again.  They put two guys on the gunner and he still would make a crunching tackle almost the instant the returner caught the ball.  He also blocked punts and field goal attempts; driving the All Stars at the 1993 Pro Bowl so crazy he was named MVP.  Steve Tasker should also be in Canton.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Wish You Could Have Been There

I thought about being one of more than one million people yesterday at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  We thought about taking the Buffalo LeaderShape AmeriCorps members to DC to be present for history.  

But, I was not there in the cold, I was in the next best place.  

My daughter Karen texted me from her school.  She was watching with her students. She said  we will never forget where we were yesterday.  She's right, it is one of history's defining moments, just like when Kennedy was assassinated, when the Challenger blew up, or when the planes struck the World Trade Center.  This time the history was a fulfillment of dreams of many fathers and many mothers, dreams of a time when we would elect a President based on the ability to think, the ability to lead and the ability to inspire a nation rather than based on his or her skin color.

My children say that I begin my stories in the middle, so let me go back to the beginning. 

We talked about putting the Corps on a bus to witness history.  We lacked the funds, so we looked for an alternative.  

I had an idea. Why not give our young members a chance to see this moment through the eyes of our seniors?  Seniors come to the center for fellowship and lunch.  We have been trying to develop some intergenerational relationships anyhow.

What if we held an essay contest?  What if we asked the Corps members, who are ages 17 - 24 to interview a senior?  Could they find out what yesterday meant to just one senior?  I thought writing an essay would be good for our Corps members.  Some are taking GED instruction.  What about those who express themselves better in other ways?  What if I offered an incentive both for writing and for an artistic expression? Better yet, what if I also offered a category for a Web 2.0 presentation, say Facebook?

So that's the risk I took.  Would 17 - 24 year old Corps members respond?  Yes they did!

I wish you could have seen the maybe 75 people crowded into our senior center where we set up 3 TV monitors.  Before I knew it there were seniors, Buffalo LeaderShape AmeriCorps members, English Language Learners from at least 2 of the classes in our building, Buffalo Public School staff and Belle staff.  Corps members were talking to seniors.  They found out that one of our seniors is a daughter of Selma, Alabama.  I witnessed her tears as she talked to the young Corps member, a refugee from Africa.  I saw her tears as Aretha Franklin sang and as President Obama took the oath of office.  

I can't wait to see the results of my challenge.  We have a panel of judges.  We set a deadline of Tuesday, February 3rd.  We will provide a way for the Corps to present to the seniors.  And, in an unexpected benefit, many of the English Language Learners wrote essays.  Their teachers will work with them and we will have some kind of incentive for them too.

The faces in the crowd in that room?  We had African Americans and Hispanics.  We also had refugees from Sudan and Somalia, from Sri Lanka, from Burma and from Iraq.  Oh, and there were a couple Caucasians in the room too.  All of them witnesses to history.  

Now to mobilize all of them to make the Lower West Side of Buffalo, the United States of America and the world better for it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Question

If the President gave a farewell address and nobody listened would there be a sound?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Streets of Harlem

Apparently this has been making the rounds and has several antecedents, for example Jesse Jackson used some of the language at Rosa Parks' funeral.  One of my colleagues told me today that it showed up several weeks ago as a text message on his cell.

But the man in the middle of this interview delivers the lines with perfect pitch and rythym.  Let me know what you think.  (Click on the title of this post.)