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December 2014

Before "Hands Up, Don't Shoot", there was the Black Power Salute

St. Louis Rams players assume the hands up, don't shoot position.

Shout out to St. Louis Rams players Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt for peacefully protesting the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr.

The grand jury's decision sparked days of rioting in Ferguson and protests throughout the United States. The Rams players assumed the 'hands up, don't shoot' pose when entering the field of Edward Jones Dome before their match up against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, November 30.

These young men are to be commended for their courage in making a social and political statement during these precariousp times in this nation. Rarely does one see athletes and other celebrities making such statements in recent times.

The St. Louis players' actions are reminiscent of the Miami Heat's hoodies up in solidarity with supporters of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford, FL in February 2012. But no action would have the impact of the black power salute and downward stare of Tommie Smith John Carlos during the national anthem at the1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City during the medal ceremony. Smith and Carlos were awarded the gold and bronze medals.

Miami HEAT basketball players don hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin supporters.

USA track & field athletes, Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right), raise gloved fists in protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

Contrary to the belief of some professional team 'owners' and others, athletes have the right to peacefully express their personal beliefs. I do believe it fair and accurate to offer the position that all law enforcement are not racist however those offended by the actions of these football players have called on NFL officials to discipline, even financially penalize the players.

It is sad and amazing that sixty after Brown v. Board of Education, the United States has progressed very little in eradicating racism. After decades of racial integration, it is obvious that we have not been able to conquer the hearts and minds of Americans who still do not believe in racial equality.