Gene Washington Seminar

I was on assignment this evening for the Stanford Daily, charged with photographing Gene Washington, the current NFL Director of Football Operations. He was at Stanford to give a talk on making Black America better. The seminar was part of the annual Black Liberation Month. When Washington was an undergraduate at Stanford, he was one of 25 black students out of 10,000 students. One of the reasons he attended Stanford, as opposed to an Ivy League school, was its concerted effort to integrate minority students into the college community. He followed up his collegiate career with a nice NFL career with the 49ers and the Lions, making 4 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1969-1972. Today, as Director of Football Operations for the NFL, Washington’s most visible responsibility is that of doling out those weekly fines we’ve seeing more of in recent seasons. From Terrell Owen’s Sharpie incident to Joe Horn’s cell phone stunt, these actions have made Washington a busy man, someone NFL players dread to hear from.

According to Washington, the people that young Black students should be looking up to are not the Maurice Clarett’s or Carmelo Anthony’s of the world, but people like Richard Parsons (CEO Time Warner), Stanley O’Neal (Merrill Lynch), and Kenneth Chenault (American Express). He remarked how athletes make a lot of money, but how these guys make obscenely stupid money! Stressing the importance of higher education, he encouraged the crowd to go to business school or law school. Relating to the election year, he said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. He noted the opportunities opening up in the Far East and even Africa. The largest black-owned business in America is by a Nigerian oil tycoon living in Houston, Texas!

I wonder how many in the crowd will take Washington’s advice to heart. Though I was busy taking photographs during the evening, I was also busy listening. Now for some photos…

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