Ali Marpet, Buccaneers Social Justice Initiative, Colin Kaepernick, DeSean Jackson, Donovan Smith, Gerald McCoy, Glazer Family Foundation, Jerry Jones, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, NFL, President Donald Trump, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs announce social justice initiative
TAMPA — Buccaneers’ receiver DeSean Jackson stepped out of his cleats and walked in the shoes of a Tampa police officer during a simulation training session Tuesday that was eye-opening.
“I was a police officer doing a regular (traffic) stop and I got up to the car and they just started shooting at me,” Jackson said. “I was like, dang. I had to react. I wasn’t expecting that one.”
Almost a year ago to the day, Jackson and teammate Mike Evans took a knee during the national anthem before a game at Minnesota to draw attention to social injustice.
That spurred a team conversation that on Tuesday led to the unveiling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Social Justice Initiative.
The player-led, year round initiative which has adopted the motto of “We are the change,” was created with $1 million in matching funds from the Glazer family that owns the Bucs.
On Tuesday, the initiative’s founding board that includes DeSean Jackson, Gerald McCoy, Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet and about 15 teammates, participated in police specialty team demonstrations and scenario-based exercises at the TPD training facility. They also held a question and answer session with Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.
“I thought there was a disconnect and miscommunication that needed to be cleared,” McCoy said. “And we were able to ask questions and it was an open and honest conversation. We were able to ask hard questions.”
Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who says he goes to sleep each night listening to a police call scanner, said it’s the kind of conversation people need to have in every city. “This is an interesting time in America,” Buckhorn said. “It is an interesting time in the cities of America. It is a very unique time in terms of the police in our communities, particularly our communities of color. This is a challenge unlike anything we have faced as a nation. But ultimately it’s up to us how we resolve that quandary. It’s about communication. It’s about treating people with respect.”
The NFL has been looking for answers to this thorny issue since the summer of 2016, when a string of police shootings of unarmed black men inspired 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel rather than stand for the national anthem. Kaepernick said he was protesting racial injustice. Other NFL players followed his lead, and athletes from other sports leagues joined the protests in various forms. But there were negative responses, even calls by President Donald Trump that players who protest during the national anthem should be fired.
When President Trump launched a sensational attack on NFL players, saying owners should “get that son of a (expletive) off the field” if players disrespect the flag, it seemed to unify players and management. But television ratings saw a slight dip, and owners such as Jerry Jones tried to reach a solution by adopting a national anthem policy at the league meetings in March. The NFL rescinded its national anthem policy and is working with the players association on an collectively bargained one.
Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, Bucs owner/president of the team’s foundation, said Tampa Bay players identified four areas that needed the most help: police relations, criminal justice reform, racial equality and youth empowerment.
The Bucs players have three more events scheduled this year: a Ready 4-work ex-offender training program, a prison crusade with Abe Brown Ministries and a juvenile justice mentoring event with G3 Life Apps.
“I had some questions I wanted to ask because I have some family in law enforcement and I understand that their job, career, it’s not easy,” McCoy said. “It’s not easy at all and they take a lot of heat. Everybody in professional football, they’re not always going to be the best people. They’re not going to make the best decisions. But it’s going to be magnified with something negative. But there’s a lot, a lot, a lot, of great police officers out there and they do a lot in the community. And it’s not just protecting us, but going to schools and talking to groups or spending time with kids they drive past at the park.”
McCoy’s turn in the simulator on Tuesday also did not end well.
“I did the simulation where I actually ended up being stabbed because I missed (with the taser),” McCoy said. “And I did a simulation where, they weren’t aggressive, but it escalated very fast. It teaches you that you have to make split second decisions. The crazy thing is similar to Sundays, you have a decision to make. You have your training. But you’re not always going to make the right decision. They opened our eyes to that today. It’s easy to watch it on TV from afar and say what a person should and shouldn’t do and how things should and shouldn’t go. But when you’re right in the midst, in the heat of the moment, it’s a lot harder than we make it seem.”
DeSean Jackson thanked the Glazer Family Foundation for their willingness to provide matching player contribution, which could result in a $2-million fund for the initiative. He said he hopes other NFL teams will follow suit with similar programs.
“It’s like a trigger affect,” Jackson said. “Once again, I don’t think the Glazers could miss this opportunity. It definitely helped, the conversation we had last year. Definitively, from last year to where we are right now is a huge change, a huge jump.”
Tampa Florida, September 3, 2018
DeSean Jackson, All Pro wide receiver, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his mother, Gayle Jackson, announced today that they have accepted an invitation, from Ire Carolina, Principal, Ernest E. Just Elementary, to partner with the Jacksons and their foundation in an effort to empower and motivate Just Elementary students.
Gayle Jackson states that the timing is perfect. Last year, we were new to the Tampa Bay NFL franchise market. DeSean’s work schedule, the move and getting acclimated to a new team and City were first and foremost. This year, we wanted to re-brand and launch the DeSean Jackson Foundation in Tampa; and, it was important to DeSean that we go “off the grid” to develop a partnership with an elementary, middle and high school where he could be very engaged and impact the lives of those we serve.
Just Elementary is good fit because Ernest E. Just was a pioneering African-American biologist, academic & science writer. Gayle wants to challenge the students to preserve Mr. Just’s legacy; and, hopefully, aspire to a career in research for a cure for Pancreatic Cancer. She also wants to encourage other NFL Moms, of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ players, to join her in bringing Read Across America to Just Elementary.
DeSean is looking forward to meeting with the young men and boys in the Just Gents Club and sharing his experiences and “Rites of Passage into Manhood’ as learned from his father, the streets of Crenshaw, the NFL and now as a father himself.
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Contact For the DeSean Jackson Foundation: Gayle Jackson, President, DeSean Jackson Foundation, E-Mail: email@example.com
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Ernest E. JUST ELEMENTARY
August 29, 2018
To: Mrs. Gayle Jackson and Mr. DeSean Jackson – DeSean Jackson Foundation
The Omega Gent’s mentoring was established here at the Ernest E. Just Elementary in 2010. Omega Psi Fraternity, along with school personnel, have been mentoring about 35 students a year. This club’s program ideas are based on the vision of Stephen G. Peters, founder of the original gentlemen’s club, “Just Gents”, that was established here at Just Elementary in 2008. The ideals of the program are to reach and educate All of our children one child at a time. The Just Gents Club provides a vehicle to accomplish this goal.
Our vision at Just Elementary is for students to become life-long learners and have a positive impact on their community. Just Elementary is located in West Tampa across from the North Boulevard Homes where students have been a product of generational poverty. Just is a Title I school with 98% of our students receiving free or reduced lunch. Although the community is undergoing redevelopment and our population has decreased, our student needs have not changed. We strive to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to prepare them academically and socially, but the support of outside organizations is imperative to help us meet our goals. My mantra is the Possibilities are Endless….Just Believe!
Just would love the opportunity to partner with your son, DeSean, and the DeSean Jackson Foundation. Personally, I am a fan of DeSean’s and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It would truly be an honor for my students and school to be affiliated with your foundation.
I look forward to working with you in the near future.
Ire Carolina, Principal
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About: The Just Gents, Ernest E. Just Elementary, Tampa, Florida
The Just Gents meet twice a month to learn character development concepts and discuss the value of true friendship. Role-playing and modeling techniques are used to create and enhance the individual self-esteem and a number of icebreakers and a scenarios are used to practice effective teamwork. The boys are in grades 3 to 5 and range from 8 to 11 years old.
The Just Gents program is based upon the cardinal principles Rites of Passage Into Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and to Uplift the school’s name sake Ernest E. Just, who was a founding member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Members of the community are brought in to speak with the youth and encourage them to value themselves, families, friends and neighbors. Throughout the year, the youth learn new strategies to deal with the hardships of school and life as a young male growing up in today’s culture. At the end of the year the youth are engaged in challenges to complete task to exemplify what they have learned throughout the year.
Upon completing the program the youth receive awards however the youth who complete the challenges are awarded enriched achievement awards such as bicycles, gift cards, etc. at the end of the year banquet.
ABOUT: Ernest E. Just Elementary
Ernest Everett Just (August 14, 1883 – October 27, 1941) was a pioneering African American biologist, academic and science writer. Just’s primary legacy is his recognition of the fundamental role of the cell surface in the development of organisms. In his work within marine biology, cytology and parthenogenesis, he advocated the study of whole cells under normal conditions, rather than simply breaking them apart in a laboratory setting. In addition to his scientific contributions, On November 17, 1911, Ernest E. Just assisted three Howard students in establishing Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Originally a Junior High School that opened to relieve overcrowding at nearby Blake High School, Just had subsequently been used as a Head Start and 6th Grade Center, and then as an Early Childhood Center, serving preschool, Head Start, and Kindergarten children, until its closing in 2003. In 2003, construction began on a new Elementary School that would, for the first time in 30 years, provide services to the students from its community.
On August 5, 2004, Ernest E. Just Elementary opened its doors to a student population that quickly rose to over 650 children. The staff at Just is striving to provide each and every student with an education and sense of self-worth that will carry them well beyond the education system. Carrying the torch in a legacy that began with our namesake is a challenge that enriches not only the students and staff of Ernest E. Just Elementary, but also the community and beyond.
|ERNEST E. JUST ELEMENTARY – DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION (by %)|
|Total Enrollment||305 students|