Pahokee, the small town on the banks of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, is considered one of the poorest in the country. Overrun by drugs, crime and poverty, Palm Beach County reports one-half of the between the ages of 18 and 25 had felony convictions. In Pahokee, the average family earns about $34,000 and the unofficial unemployment rate is 40 percent. It is a place where depression begets desperation. According to Bryan Mealer, author of the book Muck City, families resort to catching rainwater to survive because their utilities have been cut off.
Tim Howard is hard to miss. After all, he’s a 6-3, 210-pound goalkeeper who became the face of the U.S. men’s national soccer team in lieu of this summer’s FIFA World Cup. He sports a full, dark beard, menacing brown eyes, a shaved head and—perhaps not as noticeable for those unfamiliar with him—an upper body teeming with tattoos.
Howard’s first ink came when he was 16, a Superman symbol branded on his right biceps. Since then, he’s added so many tattoos now blanketing his torso and arms that he’s literally lost count. Let’s just say that, over the past few years, his frame has become a work of art.
“I learned over the years that racism is not something you’re born with, it’s a learned behavior. It’s like being brainwashed.” – Remus Harper
Remus Harper received his first noxious lesson of what it meant to be an African-American college athlete in the South on an autumn afternoon along a nondescript stretch of Interstate 26 on the outskirts of Orangeburg, South Carolina.
It was 1968.
Norman Seabrooks clutched his diploma in one hand; the other was balled in a fist. He accepted his degree from The Citadel in honor of Charlie Foster and Joe Shine, who came before him; Red Parker and Keith Roden, who struggled beside him; Herb Cunningham and Flossie Gordon, who sheltered him; the anonymous faces who stuffed his pockets with extra desserts and milk after late-night practices; the maintenance staff that publicly embraced him like a son and privately prayed for Norm’s strength and safety. But this, he thought as he left the stage with degree in hand, was for William Thomas Seabrooks.