Tag: Motivational

African American Jockeys

Think of the greatest American sports stars of all time and names like Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Serena Williams will likely spring to mind.

But long before these champions smashed the record books — and blazed a trail in the public’s imagination — the first generation of African American U.S. athletes dominated an unlikely sport.

The godfathers of Owens, Ali and Williams weren’t stereotypical towering, musclebound men found on basketball courts or in boxing rings.

Instead, they were the jockeys of the race track and their dizzying success — and dramatic fall — is one of the most remarkable buried chapters in U.S. sporting history.

When the country’s most prestigious horse race, the Kentucky Derby, launched in 1875, 13 of the 15 jockeys were African-American.

Much like the NBA today, black athletes dominated horse racing for the next three decades, winning 15 of the first 28 Derbies.

“They were the premier horsemen in the world,” says Joe Drape, author of “Black Maestro,” which tells the story of champion jockey Jimmy Winkfield.

“It was the first professional sport for African-American athletes in America. They were at the forefront of horse racing and it was a place where they could earn a good living.”

Decades before Jackie Robinson made history in 1947 as the first African-American major league baseball player, African American jockeys forged a name as the first sports heroes of post-Civil War America.

The son of a former slave, Isaac Murphy was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies — in 1884, 1890, 1891. He went on to win an unheard-of 44% of all his competitions, becoming the first rider inducted into the National Racing Hall of fame.

“Murphy was the first millionaire black athlete,” Drape told CNN. “He even had a white valet.”

Many of these jockeys had been slaves in the South, working as stable hands and becoming skilled horse handlers.

Plantation owners put them on the backs of horses in informal — and dangerous — competitions. When horse racing became an organized sport in the early 19th-Century, African-American jockeys were already leaders in the saddle.

Yet fast forward to today and you’d struggle to find an African-American jockey on a U.S. race track.

Just 30 of the around 750 members of the national Jockey’s Guild are African-American, according to the most recent figures available. That’s less than 5%

Winkfield was the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby — in 1901 and 1902 — and by 1921 they had all but disappeared.

It would be 79 years before another black rider, Marlon St. Julien, competed in 2000.

The introduction of the Jim Crow laws in the late 1880s — segregating African-American and whites — spelled an end to the golden era of jockeys like Winkfield and Murphy.

Increasing violence against African-American jockeys forced many to abandon racing and move to northern urban areas, says Drape.

“It became too dangerous to put African-American riders on horses,” he added. “An influx of Irish immigrants were now slugging it out on the track, riding African-American jockeys into railings and making them fall.”

Other riders, such as Winkfield, fled to Russia — which had a thriving horse racing industry.

“The Russians were colorblind, you had jazz players and heavyweight boxers like Jack Johnson — it was basically the last place African-American sportsmen could go,” Drape said.

He was treated like a celebrity, socializing with aristocrats in Tzar Nicholas II’s court and marrying two white European countesses.

Decades later, segregation still ruled America, and when Sports Illustrated invited Winkfield to a reception at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in 1961, he was told he couldn’t enter by the front door.

Today, Deshawn Parker is perhaps the most successful of the few African-American jockeys competing in the states, boasting more than 4,000 career victories.

The 42-year-old, who won the most U.S. events in 2010 and 2011, entered the sport after his father worked as a racing official.

“African-American aren’t on the track like they used to be,” he said. “If you don’t have someone in your family who’s in the business, you don’t have a reason to start racing.”

Parker, the 54th-ranked jockey of all time, says racing is now dominated by Latinos.

Terry Meyock, national manager of the Jockey’s Guild, agreed, estimating that 60% of jockeys in the U.S. are Latinos.

Of the current top-10 highest earning jockeys, nine are from South America.

“From African-American to Irish to Latino, jockeys in America tend to mirror immigration,” Drape said.

“The conditions are the same as 200 years ago — the best jockeys tend to be from rural countries, they grow up around horses, it’s tradition and it’s a family business.”

For Parker, jockeys like Murphy and Winkfield didn’t just change the face of racing — they paved the way for generations of African-American sports stars.

“They got African-American athletes in the door,” he said. “It’s an honor to be ranked among them.”

*Originally posted on CNN.

Make God Your Prayer Partner

Jesus loves you more than anything, and wants to be your every thing.

Sometimes, even as Christians we give God part of our lives, and not all of it.

For instance, if we’re in a jam, need a financial breakthrough or a healing miracle, we’re crying out to God and calling on Him more ever before.

Yet when it comes to our relationships with the opposite sex, you can hardly hear a pin drop in heaven as God patiently waits for His child to come to Him in that area as well.

If you’re in a relationship, get into the habit of praying through the relationship, even during normal devotional prayer time, so as to make sure you’re following the peace of God and not your flesh, and not “so-called love” which is could actually be lust in disguise.

Ask God what He thinks about the person you’re dating or considering, and how (or whether or not) you should proceed in the relationship.

Also, while praying to God, don’t ignore any red flags of caution, and, above anything else, stay in constant communication with the Father and He’ll reveal all things in due time.

So if you haven’t done so already, this year be sure and include God in every aspect of your life, and not just part of it.

Make God your ultimate prayer partner, and pray to Him about everything.

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Luke 12:2

Pray without ceasing.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

honor God

*Originally published on Kim on the Web.

An African American First: Ms. Geraldine Whittington

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Ms. Geraldine Whittington, affectionately known as “Gerri”, was the first African American presidential secretary in U.S. history. She received a personal invitation from the 36th President of the United States, Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson, once he became president in 1963. Going from Vice President to President, President Johnson wanted a whole new slate of administration so after hearing nothing but positive things about her, he extended a job offer to her to which she accepted. She began working for President Johnson in January, 1964 & continued to work for him until he retired.

She was extremely dedicated to her job & it has been recorded that her fondest memory was when President Johnson stepped out of the Oval Office with Thurgood Marshall and shared the news that he was appointing Marshall as the first African American Supreme Court Justice.  Other than the President and Justice Marshall himself, Ms. Whittington was the first person to know of this historic nomination.

Ms. Whittington understood how difficult it can be to finance a college education for African Americans, so she set up a trust fund (in her name) for relatives attending a 4-year college or university. Ms. Whittington was a distant cousin of mine. It is an honor & a privilege to have been related to her.

Here is a video clip of Ms. Whittington on the 1960’s hit show “What’s My Line?” –

 

Do you have any famous ancestors? If not, do you have a personal relationship with someone who has made an impact on our society? –