Oct. 29, 2020

Coach Jake

Our African American history in the area of sports is in a word is outstanding. What is really special to me are the legendary coaches who patrolled the sidelines at the Historically Black Colleges especially in the 1950s’, and 1960s’. On my read aloud project The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project, I read the book, Breaking The Line which told the story of four of these magnificent men. The coaches discussed included Coach Merritt from Tennessee State, Coach Banks from Morgan State, Coach Robinson from Grambling State, and Coach Jake Gaither from Florida A&M. The book centered on the 1966 football season just before the exodus of our young African Americans athletes to the primary white universities of Southland. These black coaches didn’t have the enormous budgets or staff of the primary white institutions.  But they had one thing that was overrode what the finances couldn’t buy, incredible character and dynamic leadership. Today, I focus on Coach Jake Gaither’s circle of influence. There was a commercial on when I was growing up about EF Hutton, when the company spoke you simply stayed quiet and listened. Well, Coach Jake was EF Hutton before EF Hutton. When Coach Gaither spoke everyone near him dropped everything and listened. We don’t have many of those men of excellence any longer. That’s why it is imperative that we never allow these men’s accomplishments to be forgotten. During the period when Jim Crow was ruling the south with oppression towards our African American ancestors. These men developed the leaders who in turned torn down the structures of white supremacy along with excelling in competitive sports.