Marv Levy, the former Buffalo Bills coach, used to ask his players before games: Where else would rather be than right here, right now?
Malcolm Jenkins offers a corollary. Where else would he rather be than the current White House? Turns out the answer is the Maya Angelou Public Charter School. And Friday turned out to be his right now.
Jenkins had originally planned to visit on June 5. That’s when President Trump disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles after it turned out few players were going to show up for a Super Bowl celebration. Jenkins had worked up a meaningful community service day for teammates who didn’t want to visit a president who trashes NFL players.
That’s when Jenkins discovered the Maya Angelou series of public charter schools, which enroll students who have experienced serious trauma in their lives. Jenkins made sure to schedule another date when he had to postpone his earlier visit. And this one, felicitously, happened to coincide with graduation week.
“For it to be on a day when a lot of kids graduated, to celebrate the kids and the staff who lift them up, it worked out,” Jenkins told USA TODAY Sports. “God works in funny ways.”
Then it was off to Georgetown University to meet with district attorneys from across the country to talk about criminal justice reform. That’s one of the pillars of the Players Coalition, the public charity and advocacy organization that Jenkins co-founded with former NFL player Anquan Boldin.
The coalition, which Jenkins says now numbers more than 100 members, was founded in the wake of Trump criticizing players who protest during the national anthem as a means of bringing attention to issues of social justice. Jenkins thinks NFL fans are selective when they say they don’t like to see social causes mixed with their football on Sundays.
“The national anthem lasts for, what, two minutes,” Jenkins said. “There’s a three-hour game that still goes on afterward. They can still focus on football. They don’t take that same stance when we do an entire month around breast cancer. When there was a campaign against domestic violence, nobody wrote letters about how we don’t want to talk about this stuff on Sunday.
“It’s only when we start talking about black issues — things that have to do with race, all these issues that we as a country like to run from. That’s when all of a sudden they say, ‘We want to concentrate on football on Sunday and we don’t want to deal with anything else.’ If you don’t want to deal with this on Sunday, how about Monday through Saturday?”
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SOURCE: USA Today, Erik Brady