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Every since I was a young boy, I have had aspirations of being a professional football player. However, I was born with cerebral palsy and lost my mobility at the age of nine. But that never stopped me from dreaming and being a huge fan of the NFL.  My dad who is currently a police officer was  a collegiate football player at San Jose State University in the mid to late 80s.  I guess you can say that I was brainwashed into loving football. As long as I have been a fan of pro football, I have always wondered who was the first black NFL football player.  After doing a little research, I found that Kenny Washington was the first Black NFL football player. He played his collegiate football at the University of California Los Angeles also known as UCLA. The ironic thing is that he was there at the same time as Jackie Robinson who happens to be the first black Major League Baseball player. Kenny Washington also played baseball and was a collegiate teammate of Jackie Robinson. Coaches said that he was actually a better baseball player than Jackie Robinson. Can you believe that!

In 1946, the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL broke the color barrier and signed undrafted player Kenny Washington, the first African American football player in the NFL. In 1939, Kenny Washington was the recipient of the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy (most outstanding player in College Football). Despite his outstanding ability, he had to wait 6 years playing for the Pacific Coast Professional Football League from 1941 to 1945 before getting his opportunity to play in the NFL. This was all because the color of his skin. In his short three year career in the NFL, he rushed for 859 yards averaging 6.1 yards per carry and recorded 8 touchdowns while being harassed by the fans from city to city.  I view Kenny Washington as a pioneer who paved the way for many of today’s African-American professional football players. The NFL today is approximately 80% African-American.  Kenny Washington is definitely a man of courage and bravery. He deserves more recognition and should be saluted for breaking race barrier in professional football.

For more detailed information, research Kenny Washington on the Internet.

Timothy Jackson Jr.

When I think about heroes, U.S. Marine, PFC Dan Bullock, tops the list as one of my favorite true life stories.  PFC Bullock was just 15 years old when he was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Dan Bullock dreamed of becoming a US Marine or a police officer. Like Dan Bullock, I have passion and respect for the military and police officers. I have deep appreciation and admiration of him seeking out and achieving his dream to serve.

Dan bullock was just 14 years old when he altered his birth certificate to show that he was 18 years old so he could enlist. On September 18, 1968 he joined the Marine Corps and was assigned to Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.  On May 18, 1969, his platoon came under night attack by the North Vietnamese Army. While making an ammunition run to supply his platoon, he was killed in action by small arms fire. PFC Dan Bullock was just 15 years old making him the youngest servicemen killed in action during the Vietnam war.

As a proud African-American helping defend our country, I’m sure nobody questioned him about the color of his skin or what area of country he was raised.  Although he died in service of our country, his story lives on.  Still, I always reflect if Dan Bullock would have ultimately become a police officer after his tour in the military because of his sense of duty and service.   When you come across a military serviceman or a police officer, think of PFC Dan Bullock. Approach that serviceman or police officer and thank them for keeping us safe. With the inspiration and dedication of people like Dan Bullock, our country is a better and safer place.

Timothy Jackson Jr.

My name is Timothy Jackson Jr. and I’ve always had great admiration for the work performed by police and military service persons. They keep this great nation safe. I’m proud to tell you that my father has been a police officer for my whole life. Because of my lack of mobility due to having cerebral palsy, I know that I can never be a police or military officer. However, I do have the ability to express my thoughts and feelings. Being of African-American descent, I have always wondered who was the first black law-enforcement officer in the United States. After a little research I found that Bass Reeves was the first known African-American law-enforcement officer in the United States of America.

In 1875 Bass Reeves, after being appointed by US marshal James Fagan, began his career. Fagan hired Reeves due to his extensive knowledge of the Indian Territory and his ability to speak several different Native American tribal languages. Bass Reeves served as a Deputy United States Marshal for over 35 years. He marked his place in history by being one of the  greatest lawmen in Indian Territory, bringing in more than 3,000 outlaws and helping to calm the lawless territory. Killing approximately 14 men during his service, Reeves always stated that he “never shot a man when it was not necessary for him to do so in the discharge of his duty or to save his own life.”

Bass Reeves was a true American hero and a relentless fighter against crime.  When you have the time, search the Internet for Bass Reeves and learn more about this American hero. I guarantee that his example will inspire you to make a difference in your community.