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Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Four-year Veteran Finds Gratification as Role Model

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — As a four-year veteran, Buford hopes to do what previous four-year players did for her – be an encouraging source for her teammates.

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Kayla Buford in action

By Charles Hallman

There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2018-19 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players. This week we profile two players at opposite ends of the collegiate-play spectrum: Gopher senior volleyball player Kayla Buford, and Gopher freshman soccer player Patricia Ward.

Kayla Buford thus far has appeared in 10 matches in her Gopher volleyball career. She recorded her first collegiate kill last fall, and earlier this month made her first career start, playing all three sets in a 3-0 win over Georgia Southern and recording six kills.

Whenever a player achieves success, especially as a prep, one naturally expects that to continue in college as well. Although Buford, the squad’s only Black four-year player, doesn’t see much court time, she does nevertheless have consecutive Final Four runs and a Big Ten championship on her resume.

According to Coach Hugh McCutcheon, Buford’s contributions as a role model as well as her overall experience can’t be understated or overlooked. “You don’t have to be the fiercest player on the court, but you have to be consistent in action relative to the value on this team,” McCutcheon said of the 6’-2” middle blocker. “Although she is not out there on every play,” Buford is “a selfless teammate,” he stressed.

Kayla Budford

[/media-credit] Kayla Budford

Buford, a Canton, Mich. native, was the Gopher game-day program cover story for the annual preseason classic Minnesota hosts on Labor Day weekend, the same time she earned her first start. When asked if she knew beforehand, the senior said she learned her starting assignment just prior to the match.

“It was fun,” she noted. The middle blocker added that for the most part, she kept her emotions in check: “You train so hard and work so hard…[to not be] nervous and [over]confident.”

She is part of Minnesota’s “deep” 18-player roster, six of whom are Black. Soph Stephanie Samedy leads the Gophers with 114 kills, including a game-high 13 kills in last Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Maryland to improve to 2-0 in Big Ten play. Redshirt junior Taylor Morgan is 10th in the nation in blocks per set, averaging 1.52 per set. Freshman Adanna Rollins had her first career double-double in last Wednesday’s straight-set win over Penn State in front of a sold-out crowd at Maturi Pavilion.

“Everyone comes in with the same goal and same mindset — we all just try to be better,” Buford observed. “There is so much more for us to achieve, so much we can be. We are a good group of girls and a good group of players. I want to see good things for us.”

Buford originally planned to study fashion merchandising but soon learned that her business courses and her volleyball obligations might conflict. Eventually, she switched her focus to sports management and marketing as her major.

“As I went through college, I realized that I love sports, and no matter what, I always want sports to be part of my life, whether I’m a player or I’m working behind the scenes.”

The senior this past spring interned with the Minneapolis Final Four Organizing Committee. “You see so many grueling hours go into it… It made me so much more appreciative of what goes on” in the planning of the annual championship event that will be in downtown Minneapolis next March. “Every day was not the same, which was good.”

As a four-year veteran, Buford hopes to do what previous four-year players did for her – be an encouraging source for her teammates. “Something someone told me is not to take this opportunity for granted, which is so true,” she advised. Yes, practices are tedious and repetitious, “but I have people here that care about you both as a person and a player.”

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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  1. Kevin L. Buford

    October 6, 2018 at 9:16 am

    I’m so proud of how my daughter Kayla has handled herself through out her college tenure. She consistently supports and uplifts her fellow players in an effort to motivate and encourage them to be the best they can be, all while under utilized. As the daughter of a Pastor Kayla prays often and gains strength from her relationship with Jesus Christ. Kayla is truly Amazing!!

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Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Major League Baseball: Has something gone foul in the ballpark?

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — The signs are all around us. Major League Baseball (MLB) has had it, and they are fighting back by whatever means necessary. Today something is going on with the product, and yes, it’s affecting the game. It’s either the ball or the players are juiced. I don’t think you can have it both ways.

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Baseball Stadium (Photo by: Tim Gouw | pexels.com)
By Larry Fitzgerald

The signs are all around us. Major League Baseball (MLB) has had it, and they are fighting back by whatever means necessary. Today something is going on with the product, and yes, it’s affecting the game. It’s either the ball or the players are juiced. I don’t think you can have it both ways.

Major League Baseball is the only professional sports league whose games are played without a clock. Think about it: NBA games just over two hours, NFL just over 3 hours, NHL with three 20-minute periods.

MLB’s 30 teams play 162 games over six months. Their season is a marathon, not a sprint. It starts in late March and ends at the beginning of November. Some games are less than two hours with great pitching, and other games can go on seemingly forever.

The Twins already have had two games last 17 and 18 innings. Yes, six-hour games; has MLB done something to the baseball?

The Twins have hit 166 home runs in 89 games — that’s the best in baseball. No Twins team in their history has hit more through 89 games. Eleven Twins players have at least 10 home runs, and two players, Eddie Rosario with 20 and Max Kepler with 21, are among the American League leaders.

Are some players in this day and age of science masking what they are taking to get an edge again? MLB is the only sports league where players like Barry Bonds (762 home runs), Roger Clemens (seven-time Cy Young Award winner), Sammy Sosa (660 home runs), Mark McGuire (over 570 home runs) and several others have been denied the Hall of Fame by voters because they are believed to have cheated by using steroids.

This game has been played for 100 years. Babe Ruth was the first to hit 60 home runs in a season. He hit 714 in his remarkable career. The ballparks are all just about the same size. Since 1947, with Jackie Robinson and the experiment that allowed the best athletes in the Negro League to play with Whites in MLB, the talent pool has continued to get wider. Greater players from all over the world now play in the Major Leagues.

Several pitchers are now throwing the ball over 100 mph. More fans are being hit by line-drive foul balls. Is that because of cell phones, or are fans not paying attention because the games are too long?

I believe MLB is tired of losing so many great American-born athletes year to year to football, basketball, and golf. Nobody in the NFL or NBA or NHL gets contracts guaranteed for $440 million like Mike Trout or $330 million contracts like San Diego’s Manny Machado or Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper.

But 10 teams are on record paces for the most home runs in their franchises’ histories after 89 games: Twins (166), Seattle (160), Yankees (149) and Oakland (145). Three players in the National League have already hit 30 home runs or more: Los Angeles’ Cody Bellinger (30), New York Mets’ Pete Alonso (30), and NL-MVP Brewers’ star Christian Yelich (31). Only twice previously in history have three players hit 30 or more home runs at the all-star break.

It’s been said before that numbers don’t lie, and the numbers that we’ve seen after 89-90 games indicate that MLB managers and coaches have taken their foot off the gas and turned their heads. Home runs sell the game, and MLB has more units — 162 times 30 — than any of the other sports leagues.

While we salute the accomplished All-Stars in Cleveland at the mid-summer classic, we cannot ignore the evidence that many of the players or the balls are juiced.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Studies expose destructive housing inequities

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — On the heels of the most recent “Anti-Poverty Soldier” piece(June 20, 2019) — about a Duke University study that chronicled the systematic plundering of more than $3 billion in wealth from Chicago’s African American homeowners from 1950 to 1970 — comes a new report from the United Nations that paints an equally troubling picture of the current state of housing in America.

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Photo by: MSR News Online
By Clarence Hightower

From the rapidly urbanizing cities of the global South to the former Rust Belt cities in the Midwestern United States, millions of people face housing insecurity and/or live in substandard housing.         — Jackie Smith and Emily Cummins

The Government of the United States of America has provided financial support primarily through tax breaks and benefits to encourage the institutional investment in housing as an asset class and yet has failed to take measures to ensure access to adequate housing for the most vulnerable populations.    — Surya Deva and Leilani Farha

On the heels of the most recent “Anti-Poverty Soldier” piece(June 20, 2019) — about a Duke University study that chronicled the systematic plundering of more than $3 billion in wealth from Chicago’s African American homeowners from 1950 to 1970 — comes a new report from the United Nations that paints an equally troubling picture of the current state of housing in America.

During the past few years, independent experts working on behalf of the United Nation’s (UN) Human Rights Watch have cited a number of violations in the U.S. across a myriad of categories (criminal justice, health care, racial disparities, gender equality, the rights of children and seniors, etc.). They have also declared that the U.S. must overhaul the policies and practices that continue to criminalize poverty.

And now, some of the latest findings with regard to housing further demonstrate how insidiously destructive these policies are. Writing on behalf of the UN, Special Rapporteurs Surya Deva and Leilani Farha reveal that when it comes to government spending, high-income households (those with annual incomes at or above $200,000) receive federal housing subsidies that are “four times greater” than what low-income households get.

What is more, according to the UN report, between 2010 and 2016 federal agencies auctioned off nearly 200,000 homes with delinquent mortgages. Almost all of these homes were purchased — for significantly less than they are worth — by private equity groups “who now earn rent on these properties.”

And, while average rents in the U.S. have increased by approximately 25 percent in the last decade or so, average annual incomes have decreased during that same period of time.

Finally, the UN notes that every day in America almost 7,500 renter families are evicted from their homes. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming percentage of evictions are occurring in African American neighborhoods.

Here in Minnesota — despite supposed efforts to increase the number of affordable housing units — the data suggest housing costs are continuing to rise unabated, which again disproportionately affect communities of color. In a report from May of this year, the Minneapolis-based Family Housing Fund (FHF) indicates that housing in the Twin Cities is on pace to become as expensive as cities like Chicago, Denver, and Seattle.

Likewise, a Minnesota Housing Partnership Study, also from this spring, tells us that more than 100,000 Minnesota households have no affordable housing options at all, while another half-million households are classified as cost-burdened, a number that continues to grow.

Similar to the national statistics, as inflation-adjusted rents rise throughout the state (in all but one Minnesota county since 2000), adjusted incomes among renter households have continued to decline.

Clearly, though, not everyone is suffering. Lisa Sturtevant, who authored the FHF report, says that for those households earning more than $85,000 per year, “There is an excess of available housing” in the Twin Cities. I suppose that’s typical; those who need, don’t have, and those who don’t need, have too much.

Still, as I think about these studies and how important they are — after all, they give us insight into the real condition of the world around us — I can’t help but think of something the late author and Kansas City Star columnist William E. Vaughn once said.

To paraphrase him: Wouldn’t it be something if low-income and working people in America were to get half the money that universities, government agencies, and others spend on studying them?

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Clarence Hightower

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Books

A champion of the people: Josie Johnson still finds hope in the struggle

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Josie Johnson. The term “living legend” might well understate her stature in the community. She is a beloved lady with a warm hearted smile and serious political clout who has made history, indeed helped shaped it, as chronicled in her book Hope in the Struggle: A Memoir (University of Minnesota Press).

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Submitted photo (l-r) Carolyn Holbrook, Josie Johnson and Arleta Little
By MSR News Online

Josie Johnson. The term “living legend” might well understate her stature in the community. She is a beloved lady with a warm hearted smile and serious political clout who has made history, indeed helped shaped it, as chronicled in her book Hope in the StruggleA Memoir (University of Minnesota Press).

On the dust cover of the memoir, Walter Mondale attests that Johnson “has always been a champion of fairness and decency, and this book shows us that while there is still work to be done, with her help, there will always be hope.”

Her friend and comrade Mahmoud El- Kati, Twin Cities historian, scholar and community griot, told Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder that Hope in the Struggle “is timely and it’s important. Many people are going to find it very, very useful because of the time and context she addresses.”

Just a partial listing of Johnson’s pedigree as a person of the people notes that she has remained active in civil rights since a teenager when she and her father canvassed to gather signatures on an anti-poll tax petition.

In the early 1960s, Johnson professionally lobbied for fair housing and equal opportunity employment. A member of the Minneapolis Urban League, she served as acting director between 1967 and 1968, after which she became a legislative and community liaison as a mayoral aide in Minneapolis during a time of turbulent racial unrest that had swept America. She co-chaired Minnesota’s delegation to the momentous 1971 March on Washington.

She is also a recipient of the Committed to the Vision Award from the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, and the University of Minnesota established the Josie Robinson Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award in her honor.

In her living room, you can get a glimpse of how her life has spanned African American progress. On a wall there are artifacts from the Jim Crow era — signs reading, “Colored seated in rear” and “We serve colored carry out only.” And not far from an end table sits a framed photo of Josie Johnson and Michelle Obama together, radiantly smiling.

On June 27, Johnson enjoyed a book signing at UROC in North Minneapolis. “I was very happy to have an opportunity to [be] with our community,” she said, “and talk about what my team [Carolyn Holbrook and Arleta Little with whom she crafted the memoir] was trying to do in the book. That was the purpose.”

Asked why, when, and how she came by her lifelong commitment to making a difference, Johnson said, “I grew up in an environment where it made a difference. My dad wanted to be a lawyer, but there were no schools for Black graduate students.

“So, he became employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad and was a dining car waiter. He organized [fellow] waiters. Mother got involved in programs educating Black children, and I grew up with a community that believed in us as a people being engaged in the well-being of all.”

That principle, a strong theme in Hope in the Struggle, is an abiding aspect of what she terms the “transition of values to future generations.” In the chapter “Making Our Way,” Johnson attests, “North Minneapolis was a close-knit community before the problems of the ’60s broke out. Just like the families of my childhood in Houston, North Side families knew and looked out for one another.

“Neighbors knew the names of the children, whether they lived in the projects or in modest or middle-to-upper-class homes.” She goes on to note, “Black-owned barber shops and beauty salons, restaurants, bars and cafes, dry cleaners, grocery stores, and clothing stores thrived. The Givens Ice Cream Bar was also a mainstay in the community, owned by Archie Givens Sr. and his wife Phebe. Archie and Phebe grew up in North Minneapolis and remained there with their children while he grew his career as a real estate developer building new homes for Black families.”

Speaking with MSR, she added, “Our children need that, now. The sense of living in a close-knit community…talking to our kids about their history and who they are. Give them a sense of pride.”

She added, “The society has created an environment now [that has] made Black adults afraid of their own. They don’t stop them in the street anymore to correct them when they’re doing something to misbehave. We have fallen into that trap.”

Johnson continued, “I had an experience that was so rewarding. I was on a department store escalator one time.  Three young Black ladies, girls, were talking in [foul] language. Not what this old lady wanted to hear. I said, ‘Young ladies, you are too beautiful to talk like that.’ They turned around, covered their mouths and apologized. Wasn’t that something? I wasn’t afraid of our children.”

Johnson is troubled by the state of things not only for those children but the nation, period, since Barack Obama left office. In the Hope in the Struggle epilogue, she observes that today’s White House is far from a friend of social progress; in fact, it stands counter thereto.

“Since his election, Donald Trump has defined his presidency in his own way. He has borrowed strategies from past presidents — for example, Nixon and Reagan — that fit his definition of his presidency. And in so doing, he has created a world of confusion.”

Asked to expound on that point, she said, “Trump came in and said it was alright to be racist.  It’s alright to be sexist and treat women the way he did. Alright to make fun of people that are handicapped, have various disabilities.

“And America told him he was right. It elected him President of the United States. They still allow him to get away with that. That’s the harm he’s done to America. I wonder what that says to children still trying to develop a sense of right and wrong.”

To order purchase your copy of Hope in the Struggle: A Memoir, go to bit.ly/JosieJohnsonHope.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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Commentary

COMMENTARY: Johnson-Patterson played as well as she coached

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Faith Johnson-Patterson is well known in Minnesota high school basketball lore. After eight state titles and 14 tournament appearances as the head girls’ coach at Minneapolis North (state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005) and DeLaSalle (state championships in 2011, 2012, 2013), she has established herself among the state’s elite.

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Faith Johnson-Patterson (Photo courtesy of Eden Prairie)
By Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

Faith Johnson-Patterson is well known in Minnesota high school basketball lore. After eight state titles and 14 tournament appearances as the head girls’ coach at Minneapolis North (state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005) and DeLaSalle (state championships in 2011, 2012, 2013), she has established herself among the state’s elite.

Twenty-nine years ago, I saw the Hall of Fame coach in a different light.

In May 1980, my father invited me — a ninth-grader at the time — to attend a high school all-star game at the old Met Center in Bloomington featuring teams representing Minnesota and Indiana.

I was very excited because my basketball heroes at the time — Ricky Suggs (St. Paul Central) and David Gilreath (Marshall University High) — were going to be playing against the best high school players the state of Indiana had to offer.

My pops, the late Kwame McDonald, had other ideas. I should have known, because we were leaving for the game three hours before tip-off.

“There’s a girls’ game before the boys’,” he said with urgency. “I’ve got to see Faith.”

At the time, I wasn’t that excited about seeing the girls play. The priority for me was to watch the boys represent. I also remember saying to myself, “Faith who?”

The answer to that question was fully answered in the next hour and a half.

We looked on as Marshall-University High senior guard Faith Johnson — displaying quickness, leadership and one of the purest jump shots I’ve ever witnessed scored nine of her 15 points in the second period to help the Minnesota all-stars defeat the Indiana all-stars 71-65.

That game was my introduction to Faith Johnson the player. Many don’t realize the impact she had as a player during a time when girls’ basketball was in its infancy.

She played in the first two girls’ state basketball tournaments during her eighth- and ninth-grade seasons, and though she went on to have an outstanding prep career, she was not an all-state selection as a senior.

Despite the snub, she accepted a scholarship offer to play at the University of Wisconsin, scoring 1,120 points from 1980-1985.

Many remember Johnson-Patterson as one the state’s greatest coaches. Some remember her as an outstanding high school player.

Thanks to my father, I will always remember her as both.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

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Economy

Racial disparities make it harder to ‘die well’

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN – RECORDER — African Americans experience an earlier onset and greater risk of what may be referred to as lifestyle-related diseases — cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. More than 40 percent of African Americans over the age of 20 are diagnosed with high blood pressure, compared to 32 percent of all Americans.

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Grave (Photo by: rawpixel.com | pexels.com)
By Jason Ashe and Danielle L. Beatty Moody

The world got an idea recently from 92-year-old Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, who popularized mindfulness and meditation in the U.S. The monk returned to his home in Vietnam to pass his remaining years. Many admired his desire to live his remaining time in peace and dignity.

Researchers from the University of California-San Diego recently did a literature search to understand what Americans might consider to be a “good death” or “successful dying.” As can be expected, their findings varied. People’s views were determined by their religious, social and cultural norms and influences.

The researchers urged healthcare providers, caregivers and the lay community to have open dialogues about preferences for the dying process.

As scholars who study social health and human services psychology, we found something missing in these conversations — how race impacts life span. It’s important to recognize that not everyone has an equal chance at “dying well.”

Black population and ill health

Take the disease burden of the African American population.

African Americans experience an earlier onset and greater risk of what may be referred to as lifestyle-related diseases — cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. More than 40 percent of African Americans over the age of 20 are diagnosed with high blood pressure, compared to 32 percent of all Americans.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the likelihood of experiencing a first stroke is nearly twice as high for African Americans compared with Whites. African Americans are more than two times more likely to experience a stroke before the age of 55. At age 45, the mortality rate from stroke is three times higher for Blacks compared to Whites.

This disease burden consequently leads to their higher mortality rates and overall shorter life expectancy for Blacks compared to Whites.

And while the life expectancy gap differs by only a few years, 75.3 for Blacks and 78.9 for Whites as of 2016, research suggests that African Americans suffer more sickness. This is due in part to the increased prevalence of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes in this population.

Genetics, biological factors and lifestyle behaviors, such as diet and smoking, help explain a portion of these differences. However, researchers are still learning how race-related social experiences and physical environments affect health, illness and mortality.

Access to health care

One factor is that African Americans have historically underutilized preventive medicine and healthcare services. They also delay seeking routine, necessary health care — or may not follow medical advice.

One study found that during an average month, 35 percent fewer Blacks visited a physician’s office, and 27 percent fewer visited an outpatient clinic compared with Whites. “The only time I go to the doctor is when something is really hurting. But otherwise, I don’t even know my doctor’s name,” said a young African American male during a research study in Chicago.

There are reasons for this mistrust. Researchers who study medical mistrust argue that high-profile cases of medical experiments are still playing a role in how African Americans view healthcare systems and providers.

In the past, physicians have intentionally done harm against people of color. A well-known case is the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis” in African American men, which lasted from 1932 to 1972.

In this clinical study, 399 African American men who had already contracted syphilis were told that they were receiving free health care from the government. In fact, doctors, knowing their critical condition, were awaiting their deaths to subsequently conduct autopsies and study the disease’s progression.

Even though penicillin had been proven to treat syphilis by 1947, these men were denied the treatment.

Why discrimination matters for health

Other studies suggest that regardless of their knowledge of past medical abuse, many African Americans have low levels of trust in medical establishments.

“Doctors, like all other people, are subject to prejudice and discrimination,” writes Damon Tweedy, author of Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine. “While bias can be a problem in any profession, in medicine, the stakes are much higher.”

Unfortunately, these fears are underscored by empirical evidence that African Americans are less likely to receive pain medication management, higher quality care, or survive surgical procedures.

In addition, a growing body of literature has established that experiences of discrimination are extremely harmful to physical and mental health, particularly among African Americans. This research adds to the body of evidence that experiences of discrimination harm people’s health and may contribute to the increased rates of premature decline and death among Blacks.

What does it take to SOTdie well?

As African American scholars, we argue the “art of dying well” may be a distant and romantic notion for the African American community. African Americans are also exposed to earlier and more frequent deaths of close loved ones, immediate family members and friends.

Their increased “vulnerability to untimely deaths,” writes Duke University scholar Karla Holloway, shows African Americans’ lack of access to equitable and fair paths in life.

Before defining “a good death,” American society must first begin to fundamentally address how to promote quality living and longevity across all racial groups.

Story republished with permission from The Conversation.

Jason Ashe is a doctoral student in human services psychology at the University of Maryland. Danielle L. Beatty Moody is an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Maryland.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

By Jason Ashe and Danielle L. Beatty Moody

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Serena Williams gets first Wheaties box cover, hopes to inspire next generation

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Serena Williams started July off with a bang, becoming the new face on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes. The cereal giant announced the honor on June 25 with a tweet: “She’s an athlete. She’s a fashion designer. She’s a philanthropist. She’s a mother. @serenawilliams is a Champion. #ShesAChampion”

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Wheaties Box Cover with Serena Williams (Photo by: General Mills)

By Paige Elliot

The tennis champ follows in the footsteps of Althea Gibson

Serena Williams started July off with a bang, becoming the new face on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes. The cereal giant announced the honor on June 25 with a tweet: “She’s an athlete. She’s a fashion designer. She’s a philanthropist. She’s a mother. @serenawilliams is a Champion. #ShesAChampion

For Williams, the achievement fulfills a long-held goal. “I have dreamt of this since I was a young woman and it’s an honor to join the ranks of some of America’s most decorated athletes,” Williams said in a press release.

One of those decorated athletes includes tennis great Althea Gibson, who became the first Black female tennis player to grace Wheaties cover in 2001.

On Instagram, Williams made sure her 11.1M followers knew the score. “In 2001, Wheaties paid homage to a true champion and an icon by putting her on the cover of a Wheaties Box. Althea Gibson was the FIRST Black Woman tennis player to be on the box. Today, I am honored to be the second.”

Gibson and Williams are among just a handful of Black women to covet a “Breakfast of Champions” cover. Gymnast Dominique Dawes received hers in 1996 and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 2004.

“Serena exemplifies all of the personal attributes that Wheaties looks for when choosing who its next champion will be,” stated Wheaties Marketing Manager Tiffani Daniels in a press release. “On the court, she has been named the women’s most valuable player seven times, while off the court she uses her voice to inspire and spark change to make the world a better place.”

Williams, widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, is currently competing at Wimbledon in both women’s singles and mixed doubles with Andy Murray. She’s on a quest for a 24th Grand Slam singles title. She’s won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and four Olympic gold medals.

The limited-edition Wheaties box featuring Williams will be on the shelves for the month of July. “I hope my image on this iconic orange box will inspire the next generation of girls and athletes to dream big,” said Williams.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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