The Reawakening of the Black Athlete

By: Kylan Watson

Yesterday evening the held a town hall meeting at the Southside YMCA in Chicago. This Town hall meeting brought together community members, athletes, and law enforcement officials. To discuss gun violence, police brutality, and community policing in Chicago. This town hall meeting could be a first step in reawakening activism in modern day black athletes.

During the town hall meeting a mother shared her story about her family was affected by gun violence in the streets of Chicago, when her thirteen year old son was gunned down while playing basketball in a park.  Former NFL Player and host of the ESPN show SportsNation, Marcellus Wiley told a story about how he had a gun, and almost shot an innocent man in Buffalo, NY who was just asking for directions.  New York Liberty Shooting Guard Cappie Pondexter, a Chicago native herself told the crowd about how she lost three family members all under the age of 23 to gun violence in Chicago.

Pondexter said, “To lose someone you grew up with, to lose someone you played with, it’s the hardest thing to deal with. To see my family members have to plan for funerals, it’s been hard. It’s something you really can’t explain unless you experience it.” (

These stories showed everyone in attendance and everyone watching at home that gun violence affects everyone.  Even if you are an athlete your family can also be negatively affected.

Stories like these really highlight the two different sides of Chicago. The city’s tourism industry is projected to make $50.9 million dollars this year. Tourist flock to Chicago’s shopping districts, Navy Pier, and Grant Park. However, there is also the more violent side to Chicago. Chicago just recorded its 435th homicide this year, and it is only August.

The Town hall meeting not only highlighted the two different Chicago’s but it also highlighted athletes that are doing their part to help Chicago’s youth. Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo joined the panel and highlighted the fact that he has been mentoring ten Chicago youth from a local Elementary school.  Rondo said, “I knew I wanted to touch youth,” said Rondo, a Kentucky native who explained to the audience that he got involved with the Chicago kids before he was traded to the Bulls in July. “I wanted to touch young men in particular and help show them there is a way to get out and there is hope. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t have certain mentors in my life.” (

This town hall showed that the modern day black athlete is willing to follow in the footsteps of great black athletes like, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and others. They are willing to speak up and do something. Hopefully this town hall will lead to a reawakening of activism from modern day black athletes.

Agree or disagree let your thoughts be heard!!!

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