The perception of the city of Boston and how its residents have treated African Americans in the past and even now for the most part hasn’t been in the least bit favorable.
Former Celtics greats Cedric Maxwell, Satch Sanders and Red Auerbach’s daughter Randy joined sports journalist, Ron Thomas, for the “Being a Black Celtic” panel. The consensus among the panel was that racism in Boston was no different from any other place and several members had their worst experiences outside of Boston.
Here are some of the highlights:
“This is the city of champions. We didn’t care about color,” said Maxwell. He also shared stories about how Larry Bird was a Brother in Arms and how Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell both shared the same sentiment about being received in Boston which was they really didn’t care what people thought of them.
Satch Sanders spoke on the difficulties it was for him trying to find a place to live downtown and the dreams the players had to make some good money. “I only wanted to make $20,000,” said Sanders. “We used to all sit around and think if we could only make $20,000 we’d have it made.”
Randy Auerbach made sure everyone knew her father’s approach to running the Celtics. “He wanted to win it was no hidden agendas. Loyalty was number one. There’s no loyalty now.”
“He hated injustice. [Racial incidents] left him with a very heavy heart.”
Last but not least Ron Thomas gave the black journalists’ view of those times and was excited to make his first trip to Fenway because in the 60’s and 70’s they didn’t feel they were welcomed there.
The State of the Black Sports Reporter panel featured a variety of print, television and online professionals. Mike Freeman (Bleacher Report), Carlton Thompson (MLB.com), Gary Washburn (Boston Globe), Shannon Cross (TV One) and Chris Broussard (ESPN), used their experiences rising through the ranks of journalism to advise and inspire up and coming members of the media to never give up on their passion to become the next great journalist. If the discussion had a theme it would be perseverance. The panel described their small beginnings interning, writing for school papers and covering local high school sports to break into the business and gain a wealth experience. In terms of being black in the industry, the panel explained that the obvious challenge of diversity will always be an issue so you have to perfect your craft and make yourself valuable to an outlet. Here are a few highlights from the esteemed group.
Mike Freeman: “Your mistakes are more amplified and your success is more diminished. As a result, use your allies to help advance in the industry and combat adversity.”
Carlton Thompson: “If you’re good and you’re working hard they’ll find you. So position yourself to be the BEST.” Align yourself with people that are going places. Your alliances are important to your success”
Gary Washburn: “Perseverance is the key to succeeding in this industry. This is a perception business and a judgmental business. Carry yourself as a professional. Be professional at ALL TIMES.”
Shannon Cross: “It’s never too late to go after whatever your passion is. And if you don’t know it’s never too late to figure it out. Even if you’re established in your career you’ve got to keep learning. Writing will get you far. Be safe is actually risky, so you might as well be fearless.”
Chris Broussard: “Sometimes you can be so focused on why you’re not on TV or at a huge paper, you may not be excelling where you’re at. Don’t worry about starting small. Sometimes it’s better because you get many experiences that can help in the future. Whatever you do don’t Despise Small Beginnings.”
The Sports Task Force is all about bringing in the next young journalists that will help our industry survive and thrive. The Mentor Breakfast brings seasoned professionals together with budding journalists.
At the start of the program attendees signed up to be paired with a likeminded professional who they can call on for career advice. Honoree Stuart Scott of ESPN accepted his achievement via a recorded response with his signature wit.
ESPN’s Jay Harris blessed the crowd with tales of his journey from a county kid to news man to sports anchor. Harris stressed that attendees should “Do You, but don’t forget the people who support you.”
Harris closed his speech with a touching dedication to Stuart Scott by recording the audience doing a rousing “Boo YAH”!