Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wilma: Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940 in Clarksville, Tennessee to Ed and Blanche Rudolph. Wilma's parents were hard-working, honest stock, however with the impact of the Great Depression still affecting millions of Americans they were very poor. Ed worked as a railroad porter and Blanche as a housekeeper to wealthy white families.

Wilma was the 20th child of a family of 22, born prematurely and at only 4.5 pounds! She was born with polio and as a result of the diease was crippled and was unable to attend school. Her mother educated her at home in her early childhood, also having to bring her to a hospital for blacks 50 miles from their home twice a week and rubbing Wilma's legs 4 times a day on account of her polio. Wilma eventually attended a segragrated blacks only school when she was seven, but was unable to walk normally until she was 12.

In junor high Wilma's sister Yolanda joined the school basketball team, which sparked Wilma's interest who also joined the team. Clinton Gray, the school coach, was reluctant to play Wilma, and she had to sit out the first two years with the school team on the bench. She got her opportunity in her sophomore year as standing guard and setting state records for scoring and leading her team to championship. She was spotted by the famous Tennessee Tigerbells track coach, Ed Temple. Temple was impressed and invited Wilma to train with Tennessee State's summer camp.
As a result of her time with Tennessee State track coach she got a scholarship to the university and recieved a bachelor's degree in 1963, after taking time out to become the international track superstar that she is now famous for.

Wilma won inclusion to be part of the USA Olympic team for the 1956 Olympic's in Melbourne, Austraila at the age of 16. That year she won an Olympic bronze as part in the 4x100m relay USA team. However, her ultimate accomplishment came in 1960 at the Olympic Games in Rome where she won three gold medals for the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay (see our video section for footage). As a result of these amazing accomplishments she won the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States of America.

After her successes on the track she became a teacher, coach and sports commentator. in 1963 she married Robert Eldridge and the couple had four children Yolanda (1958), Djuanna (1964), Robert Jr.(1965) and Xurry (1971). Wilma wrote her autobiography in 1977, entitled 'Wilma' which was later adapted into a television movie.
Wilma Rudolph died on November 12, 1994 at the age of 54 in her home in Nashville, Tennessee. She had been diagnosed with brain cancer. In 1997, Governor Don Sundquist proclaimed that June 23 be now known as Wilma Rudolph Day in Tennesse.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

When We Were Kings: Cassius Clay / Cassius X / Muhammad Ali

When We Were Kings

Director: Leon Gast
Key Cast: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown, B.B. King, Mobutu Sese Seko, Spike Lee, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Thomas Hauser, Malick Bowens
Rating: PG
Genre(s): Documentary, History, Sport

When We Were Kings is a documentary about the heavyweight boxing championship fight in 1974 between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Famously called the “Rumble in the Jungle,” the highly-publicized fight took place in Zaire, which is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
With never-before-seen footage and behind-the-scenes interviews, When We Were Kings provides a rare glimpse into this famous and historic boxing match. The documentary captures Muhammad Ali’s charisma and charm as he shares his famous poems and sayings with the press and the people of Zaire. Also there are interviews with other key boxing figures like Don King, Norman Mailer and George Plimpton.
Preceding the “Rumble in the Jungle” was a three day concert with James Brown, B.B. King, and other soul music greats that also adds insight into the “event” status of this historic fight.
When We Were Kings is considered by many critics to be one of the best sports documentaries ever made.
It took over 20 years to bring When We Were Kings to the screen. You don’t want to miss it!

Purchase: When We Were Kings


Friday, April 11, 2008

Philadelphia Summer Youth Employment Program

Hi Everyone -

This is to let you know that the applications for the Philadelphia Summer Youth Employment Program were released today. These applications are accepted by mail, and youth are considered on a first come, first Serve basis. Applications can be downloaded from the PYN ( Philadelphia Youth Network) website. This program provides employment opportunities (20 hours/week for 6 weeks @ minimum wage) to low income youth (ages 14 - 21) in Philadelphia . Working papers, completed applications and supporting documentation are required for consideration, so interested families and social workers should start the process early.

Attached is a link to the application:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pride: Jim Ellis

Based on true events, "PRIDE," tells the story of Jim Ellis, a charismatic schoolteacher in the 1970s who changed lives forever by founding and coaching an African-American swim team in one of Philadelphia’s roughest neighborhoods. Directed by Sunu Gonera, this uplifting drama stars Oscar nominee Terrence Howard (HUSTLE & FLOW, CRASH, RAY), Bernie Mac (GUESS WHO, OCEANS 12, BAD SANTA) and Kimberly Elise (DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, JOHN Q).

The year is 1973, and Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), a college-educated African-American, can’t find a job. Driven by his love of competitive swimming, Jim refurbishes an abandoned recreational pool in a down-at-its-heels Philadelphia neighborhood with the help of its custodian Elston (Bernie Mac). But when the pool is marked for demolition, Jim fights back -- by starting the city’s first African-American swim team. Recruiting teens from the streets, Jim struggles to transform a motley team of novices into capable swimmers -- all in time for the upcoming state championships. But as racism, violence and an unsympathetic city official threaten to tear the team apart, Jim must do everything he can to convince his swimmers that victory, both in and out of the pool, is within their reach.

By turns comic, rousing and poignant, PRIDE is a triumphant story about team spirit and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. The film is produced by Brett Forbes, Patrick Rizzotti, Michael Ohoven, Adam Rosenfelt, and Paul Hall. The story is by Kevin Michael Smith & Michael Gozzard. Screenplay is by Kevin Michael Smith & Michael Gozzard and J. Mills Goodloe and Norman Vance, Jr.

Jim Ellis’ story is testimony to the power of dreams and their ability to inspire and transform human life.

Ellis founded the P.D.R. (Philadelphia Department of Recreation) Swim Team, based at the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia, in 1971. Today it is the City's nationally recognized competitive swim team, the nation's best predominately African-American team, and has become a model for urban swim programs around the country.
Over the past 35 years, Ellis has been introducing competitive swimming to inner city youth and their families. His coaching has provided a healthy and stimulating environment in which the young athletes can grow and compete. It also brings together families from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Through travel to various competitions, the sport exposes swimmers to other parts of the country and different lifestyles. Ellis is the subject of the upcoming film PRIDE, which tells the story of a swim coach and youth mentor who built a successful swimming program in one of Philly’s most impoverished neighborhoods in the 1970s. When Ellis founded the P.D.R. swim team in 1971, it was a time when the lives of young African-American teens in Philadelphia were often full of hardship and prejudice. The film shows this uplifting and soulful story of Ellis’ journey that pulled together a group of troubled inner-city kids, made them into a dedicated team, and taught them how to overcome adversity through hard word and determination.

Jim Ellis taught his P.D.R. swimmers more than just how to compete in the water; he taught them important and life-changing lessons that would prepare them for a better future. But through this emotional journey, Coach Ellis also discovers his team has a lot to teach him as well. PRIDE stars recent Oscar nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow, Crash, Ray), popular comedian turned actor Bernie Mac (The Bernie Mac Show, Kings of Comedy, Ocean’s Eleven), and Kimberly Elise (star of CBS series Close to Home).

As a real-life role model, Ellis’ story strikes a chord with all types of audiences. Coach Ellis is a loveable storyteller whose inspiring true-to-life story captivates and motivates audiences to always remember the influential power of one person.