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Troupe Talk: Black History

By Ben Troupe
SouthernPigskin.com
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Ben Troupe shares powerful perspective on Black History Month.

When I think about Black History Month, I must say that it has changed for me over the years. Obviously, I think about the Civil Rights Movement, MLK, Rosa Parks, Fredrick Douglass, James Baldwin, Thurgood Marshall and the list goes on and on. But what I've realized as I've gotten older is that Black History happens daily. It's not just about the great heroes who have paved the way for people like myself to have the chance to thrive and not just survive in America, it's the unsung heroes that don't make the papers or the headlines but make daily sacrifices that help further the Dream that has still yet gone unfulfilled. 

Black History is a vulnerability that affords me the opportunity to put pride and ego aside so that I can live through my purpose which is to be a bridge for others. Black History is my father overcoming drug addiction to have one of the most impactful and successful non-profit organizations in the city of Swainsboro, Georgia. Black History is me getting to tell my story and becoming a published author, public speaker and radio host. Black History is me starting my own non profit. It's being process-driven and not results-driven.

Black History is us using our collective voices, resources, platforms and unwillingness to allow hate to win in the conviction of three armed white men who stalked and murdered Ahmaud Arbery being sentenced to life in prison, with the father and son having no possibility of parole, while aslo being convicted again of hate crimes. Black History is Ahmaud's incredibly courageous mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, providing scholarships for students at Brunswick High School to hopefully help them see their dreams come true even though Ahmaud won't have the same opportunity.

Black History is me using my platform, my voice and my influence to influence. It's knowing that I'm whatever I decide to be when I decide to be it. It's being unapologetic. It's an immovable force. It's a mechanism for change. It's a beacon of light. It gives hope to the hopeless. It encourages the discouraged. It's engulfing. It's impactful. It's unrelenting. It wont stop. It can't stop. It's happening right now. It's being unfazed and unmoved in a world that wants me to flinch. It's me using my superpower.

Black History is Vice President Kamala Harris. It's Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. It's Stacey Abrams. Black History persuades, changes and shapes minds. Black History doesn't tell you what to think, it gives you something to think about. Black History is a highly complex being that comes with many layers. Black History shapes the culture. Black History is the culture. Black History is an experience worth experiencing for yourself. Black History is everywhere and it is in everything. It's taking the time to acknowledge its power, presence and life altering ability.

Black History is the likes of Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter, Jemele Hill, Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor and my former teammate Channing Crowder, along with so many others, reshaping how to do media by helping others tell their stories. It's Shannon Sharpe being himself on national television and empowering others to be themselves as well. It's the HBCU Legacy Bowl and Doug Williams, the first African-American quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, redefining what it means to be a professional athlete. It's Deion Sanders being a pioneer. It's Colin Kaepernick taking a stand by taking a knee. It's Brian Flores risking his career for change.  

Black History is an ever evolving door. Black History is not just one thing. Black History is beautifully complex. Black History is making a world real through our imagination and our spirit. Black History is a few cups of love, a teaspoon of patience, a tablespoon of generosity, a pint of kindness, a quart of laughter, a pinch of concern, mixing willingness and happiness with lots of faith stirred up well and spread over a span of a lifetime and served to each and every deserving person I meet. Black History is American History. Black History is world history. Black History is human history. 

Black History is my contribution to this world. Black History is me leaving this world better than I found it. Black History is what I did with the time I had to alter lives, penetrate the hearts and help reshape perspectives for the betterment of those around me. I am 39 years of Black History and I look forward to continuing to make history as long as I have breath in my lungs. Black History is about Being Uncommon or Being Forgotten. My Black History will live on forever.

Sincerely,

Ben Troupe

Ben Troupe - Troupe played tight end for the Florida Gators from 2000-2003, and earned first-team All-SEC recognition and first-team All-American honors from ESPN, Rivals and Sports Illustrated as a senior. After a standout college career, Troupe was selected 40th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, the first pick of the Tennessee Titans that spring. Currently, Troupe is a representative for the NFL Ambassadors via the College Outreach Program and the USA Football Youth and High School Program while also serving as an assistant master trainer for Head's Up coaching initiative. Troupe can be heard on ESPN Coastal's "Three & Out" with B.J. Bennett and Kevin Thomas.