Former NCAA champion player addresses ethnic understanding at Fresno State

The Fresno BeeFebruary 7, 2014 

Harry Flournoy, an NCAA basketball champion whose story was portrayed in the film "Glory Road," had three messages Friday evening for Fresno State students gathering in honor of Black History Month: Have a vision, eliminate excuses and elevate character over reputation.

Flournoy's comments to a standing-room-only audience in the Leon S. Peters Auditorium came after a showing of the movie.

"Glory Road" depicts the story of the 1966 Texas Western College basketball team that broke racial barriers when it won the NCAA national title with the first all-black starting lineup. Flournoy was a senior forward on the team that was coached by Don Haskins.

Those three messages helped the Miners become national champs, Flournoy said.

He said without Haskins' vision, the team never would have traveled down "Glory Road."

"Haskins was more interested in what was fair and equal. That's why we played for him," he said.

Flournoy said today's generation of college students has the opportunity to understand all ethnicities, unlike his younger days in the 1950s and '60s.

"The less you understand, the more you have to fear. The more you understand, the less you have to fear," Flournoy said about understanding other ethnicities.

Flournoy's audience, made up of students, faculty and alumni, had the opportunity to ask him questions after his presentation.

Alumnus Steve Castro asked Flournoy how he felt about today's wealthy African-American athletes, including NBA players.

"They are million-dollar slaves," Flournoy said. "They do nothing with all the money they have. How many cars can you drive?"

Castro said he was glad Flournoy made the statement, because it reflected his own thoughts.

"They're glorifying the wrong thing," he said.

After his basketball career at Texas Western, Flournoy went on to become a school teacher and basketball coach. He currently lives in Southern California.


Black History weekend events

This weekend, New Light for New Life Church of God, 1106 W. Woodward Ave., Fresno, is hosting its third annual black history celebration and an economic summit round-table discussion this weekend.

<SC120,116>Saturday: The "State of African American People" discussion, will be held 4:30 p.m. at the church.

<SC120,116>Sunday: At 11:30 a.m. at the church, National Network In Action will host its Black History Month Celebration featuring main speaker author Anita Wills of Oakland.

<SC120,116>Details: Floyd Harris, xyfloyd@aol.com or (559) 790-4277.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or bvaccari@fresnobee.com.

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