Another Trip Through the Time Capusule

This past April, my parents and I visited the National Museum of African America History and Culture in Washington, D.C. with some of my colleagues. It was a wonderful experience to share with my parents, especially my father who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, is a huge sports fan, loves music and history.

My mom as we were about to begin our journey.

There are three history galleries that go in chronological order. As you come off the “time capsule” you are transported back to the 1400s, to the sound of waves, to another place. Here is where your journey begins. The first stop is Slavery and Freedom, the 1400s – 1877. Next, is Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876 – 1968. Last, is A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond.

During our short visit in April, we only saw the first floor and half of the second floor. It was decided then that we would go back at some point to see the rest of it and we did. In November, my parents and I traveled back to Washington, D.C. for another trip through the time capsule.

This time, our first stop was the Emmett Till memorial. Even though I know the story, I was still overcome with emotion as I looked at his casket and read the quote by his mother, I have read my times before. We then continued through the floors, seeing exhibits we missed the first time and spending more time looking at the ones we did see.

A highlight for me was seeing artifacts donated by Colonel Charles McGee. Colonel McGee was one of the Tuskegee Airmen and an officer in the United States Air Force and holds a record of 409 combat missions flown in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. In 2003, I had the honor of meeting Colonel McGee at a presentation he gave.


There is so much to see, read and listen to. Everything grabs your attention. One exhibit causes you to pause and reflect. While you look at the picture, you stop and take in the moment. Others cause you to smile and laugh. Then, as you are focused on reading, you hear a small child’s voice behind you, asking questions with a huge smile on his face, as he recognizes a picture of President Obama. This place really is captivating.









Army vs. Navy, 2016

College football has some great rivals and one of the best is Army vs.  Navy. Today, the Black Knights of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point faced off against the Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy for the 117th time. Army beat Navy for the first time since 2001 ending a 14 year winning streak for Navy.

There is a lot of tradition steeped into these games and a lot of history.  For example, at the end of the game, both teams’ alma maters are sung and both teams stand alongside together to show respect and solidarity. The winning team sings second.

But we have to talk about the uniforms for a minute – the football uniforms.

Last year, Navy wore hand painted position-by-position helmets, which represented ships in the U.S. Navy’s fleet. Army wore helmets that had a different insignia for every position group. They were cool because they showed the players will go on to represent something greater after graduation in the branch they serve.

This year, Army took it back – way back. They partnered with Nike to create some awesome uniforms that honored the 82nd Airborne division. With the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor earlier this week, the uniforms were a fitting tribute to World War II paratroopers. Everything, from the helmet to the jersey, had meaning.

For more about the historical meaning including what each patch means, click here for the official uniform website and watch the video. Until next year’s game, enjoy!


African American women who have already made history in Rio

Leading up to the Olympic Games in Rio, there was already so much talk about some of the athletes. Ibtihaj Muhammad made headlines as the first Olympian to wear a hijab during competition. She will return home to New Jersey with a team bronze medal. Below are four other African American women who have already made history in Rio.

Simone Biles, Gymnastics: First, a little about gymnastics. There are four events in women’s gymnastics: floor exercise, uneven bars, vault and the balance beam. Gymnasts compete in each event and are scored by judges based on the difficulty of their routine and how well they execute the routine. Deductions are given for any mistakes and can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing. Back to Simone. 19 year old, Simone Biles is arguably, the best gymnast in the WORLD. Prior to the Olympics, she was the world All-Around champion in 2013, 2014, and 2015. That means she completed in each of the four events and her total score was the best out of everyone that competed. In addition to the All-Around medals, she won individual medals in some of the events and the US women’s team, won the gold medal in the 2014 and2015 World Championships too. That brings us to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Simone won a total of 5 medals in Rio: 4 gold and 1 bronze. The US Women’s team won gold. Simone also won the gold medal in the All- Around competition, floor exercise, vault, and a bronze on balance beam; she most decorated gymnast in United States history! Finally, Simone was chosen to be the United States flag bearer for the closing ceremonies.

Simone Manuel, Swimming: Swimming also has different events. Swimmers can compete in the freestyle, breast stroke, and back stroke style at different lengths, 50 meter or 100 meter. There is also a team medley where 4 swimmers compete in the event. Simone Manuel was a champion before Rio, but adding an Olympic gold medal to your resume is awesome. Simone earned the gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle and the 4×100 meter medley. The best part was watching her reaction after she realized she won and her interview after is an inspiration to all.

Ashleigh Johnson, Water Polo: The 21 year old from Miami, Florida is a student at Princeton University. Johnson’s also making history because she is the first African American women to compete in water polo at the Olympics. She said, “I definitely feel the responsibility to be a role model for other black people and minorities because there are so little of us in this sport. Just being myself, being black draws more attention to me. But I didn’t feel like looking different means I had to play differently, or had to prove anything to anybody. I felt like I could be myself and play as well as anybody else.” ( Johnson is the goalie for the women’s water polo team.

Michele Carter, Track and Field: Michele Carter won the gold medal in the Track and Field shot put. Carter is another athlete making history since she is the first American woman to win gold in this event. It has to be cool to win a gold medal in the Olympics. It’s even better when your father won silver and is your coach. Michelle’s father, Michael, won a silver medal in the same event at the 1984 Olympic Games, which were held in Los Angeles California. He was also a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers and won three Super Bowls with the team. Mr. Carter was beyond ecstatic for his daughter’s victory. “It’s no comparison,” he said. “With a Super Bowl, you’ve got a chance to win it every year. This only comes around once every four years or once in a lifetime. I’m numb right now.” ( Michelle is a great example of how giving all you got, even when others don’t think you can do it, pays off. In addition, Michelle is promoting body image for all women. Her program You Throw Girl aims to help women build confidence. Check out this article from The New Yorker.


Summer Olympic Games

Every 4 years, the world’s best athletes come together to compete. The 2016 Summer Olympic Games opened last night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More than 11,000 athletes from 205 countries will compete in 28 events over the next 17 days (August 5-21, 2016)

More than 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees will compete in 28 Olympic sports. For the first time, athletes from Kosovo and South Sudan are taking part (Kosovo gained their independence from Serbia in 2008). There are 554 athletes (262 men, 292 women) from the United States.

Opening ceremonies honor the host country’s history and culture with performances. Then, each country enters the stadium during the Parade of Nations in alphabetical order by the host country’s language (Portuguese is the official language). Greece is credited with the revival of the modern games and always enters first. The host nation always enters last. Michael Phelps, swimming, carried the flag for Team USA at the Opening Ceremony. Phelps is the most decorated Olympics medalist with 22 medals and is expected to win more in Rio. Phelps debuted at the 2000 games in Sydney Australia when he was just 15 years old. This is Phelps’ 5th  Olympic Games and he said it would be his last.

New to the Parade of Nations this year was The Refugee Olympic Team. This is the first time refugees have been represented at the Olympic Games. There are just 10 members on the team displaced from 5 countries but they represent the 19 million refugees in the world. They carried the Olympic flag as a symbol of unity and cooperation. After all nations entered the stadium, the games officially opened with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Olympic marathoner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, of Brazil had the honor.

The Olympic Games will be exciting to watch. Of course, by time school starts, the games will be over and the athletes will have returned home. I’ll be posting more about the games soon. Enjoy!

Mrs. Johnson

On This Day In History

August 12, 1978: Rising NFL Star Paralyzed by Hit

On this day in 1978, the Oakland Raiders played against the New England Patriots in a pre-season game. Oakland Raiders free safety Jack Tatum hit New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley helmet-to-helmet. As a result, Stingley was paralyzed for life. He was just 26 years old. Despite the sport’s hard hits and reputation for roughness, this was the first and only time a player was permanently paralyzed as a result of an injury sustained in a National Football League game. At this time, the hit did not violate any NFL rules and no flag was thrown. However, Stingley’s neck was broken and he became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. Stingley died on April 5, 2007 at the age of 51. He and Tatum never reconciled.

Helmet to helmet contact is now illegal in the NFL. Some people say that football is a hard sport and that a player will do the job they are paid to do. Others say that helmet to helmet contact should be illegal in the NFL and that a player can still do their job without the danger of injuring them self or other players.

Stingley, a wide receiver out of Purdue, was chosen by the Patriots in the first round of the 1973 draft.  In 1977, he had enjoyed the best year of his career, racking up 39 catches for 657 yards and five touchdowns. Tatum, played college football at Ohio State and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the 1971 draft. He was known for hard hits and had previously injured other NFL players.  Raiders head coach John Madden visited Stingley in the hospital. Tatum tried to visit Stingley but his family did not allow him as they were angry at Tatum. They felt he lacked remorse for what he did to Stingley.

Discussion: What do you think about helmet to helmet contact in football? Should it be illegal? Does it make the game more dangerous? Should Tatum have felt sorry for what he did or was he just “doing his job”?