Remembering Stuart Scott

Remembering Stuart Scott
January 22
00:00 2015

As a kid I remember always gathering at an uncle’s house after a funeral.  It was the place to play cards, laugh, tell family stories and of course, eat more food.   The house was small but somehow each generation had their own “space” and I just enjoyed watching everyone.

The older women occupied the living room while simultaneously monitoring food and beverages in the kitchen, the younger kids had the television room, my teen cousins held court outside or in a back bedroom and then of course the men played fierce games of Pinochle — loudly, around the kitchen table.

The tears and sadness from mourning were replaced by joy readily found in the comfort of being with those whom you loved.

And so it was after the services for Stuart Scott.  The mother of a Carolina classmate opened her home to those of us blessed to have walked UNC’s hallowed halls in the 1980s, graciously allowing us a needed minute to eat, laugh and love.

There we were: Greeks, former Greek sweethearts, members of the Black Student Movement (BSM), Stu’s fellow Radio, Television, Motion Picture majors, and of course his partners in crime on the yard, all huddled in various rooms throughout the house. Only Stuart could bring together such a diverse group.

Stuart spoke eloquently about diversity in his commencement address to the UNC Class of 2001. He challenged students to remember the diversity encountered during their time as students at UNC and embrace it.

As the news of Stuart’s death hit the air and social media, I immediately thought of those UNC Black Pioneers who ushered in that diversity. Stuart could speak about diversity because of pioneering Black men from 1950s who made it all possible: Harvey Beech, J. Kenneth Lee, Floyd McKissick and James Robert Walker Jr.

Then later in the 1960s with the creation of minority recruitment programs under the leadership of Jim Gariss and State Representative Kelly Alexander, targeting academically gifted Black students.  Their stance forever changed Carolina’s student landscape.

It is fitting to remember and celebrate Stuart’s life going into the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  Not just because he and King shared fraternal allegiance, but because Stuart embodied the promised fulfillment of joy which emanated from the mourning and labor of the Civil Rights Movement.

When working on CIAA, I vividly recall sharing about championing the creation of a Black Cultural Center (BCC) at UNC as a student.  I was criticized for this by two Black women working with me on the local organizing committee. Both attended Winston-Salem State University. To them, if I wanted Black culture, then I should have gone to a Black school.  I got similar feedback from White counter parts as well. But engaging in that experience to fight for the BCC, I along with Stuart honed our ability to represent and defend a culture and race with intelligence and integrity.

Stuart could recall his UNC African/African-American Study classes, taught by tough but fair professors, and his BSM activism to shoulder bruising backlash against transforming a White male dominated vocation.  He unapologetically dawned a uniquely African-American flare to the craft of sports broadcasting.  Because Stuart was Stuart — young, gifted, committed, and Black, others like WSSU grad Stephen Smith could follow with ease.

We are not solely proud of Stu’s professional accomplishments; we are proud because he reflected the fulfillment of a promise boldly proclaimed by generations before us. And in the midst of all the negative stories about Black men from sports to police shootings, there was Stu, even in death, illuminating much needed light.

Upcoming MLK celebrations across the country afford a good time to reflect on what is good and bad about education, jobs and housing for Black communities and indeed all communities of color.  Fewer Black males graduating from high school and college, fewer Black males able to articulate skills and talent beyond that which deepens athletic coiffures equates to fewer Stuart Scotts forging paths for other generations to build upon and emulate.

Stuart was loved and will indeed be missed, but imagine how dull and colorless our world would be without ever having his presence.

Surrounded by fellow UNC classmates in wistful reflection on our days and time in Chapel Hill, I found joy and most of all I had rejuvenated hope, hope that the light of Stu’s work ethic, character, love for his family and college education would inspire another young Black kid to follow in his footsteps.

Camille Z. Roddy, Guest Columnist

Camille Z. Roddy,
Guest Columnist

Camille Z. Roddy is a resident of Winston-Salem.

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