"Anytime you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth." - Roberto Clemente
Bronx, NY - While most of us baseball fans are finishing our Christmas Shopping and scheduling for Holiday Festivities which will run into the New Year, I wanted to take a moment to remind you about Pittsburgh Pirate Great, Roberto Clemente.
Recognized to many as the "The Great One", Roberto Clemente is also remembered for being a Humanitarian who died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972 while attempting to take relief supplies to the earthquake victims of Nicaragua.
In honoring Roberto Clemente's legacy, Latino Sports has hosted their Annual "21 Days of Clemente". It's been an annual event where where fans of Roberto Clemente have the opportunity to meet every Monday in the Bronx to share and listen to a guest speaker discuss the impact that Roberto Clemente has had in his/her life.
For the last 10 years Latino Sports coordinates one of the most worthwhile community events in our community geared towards students and adults. Bronx students from Kindergarten to senior year in High school are invited to submit any drawing, poem, composition, or any art piece no matter how simple on Clemente, or Retire 21. No piece is rejected and all are accepted.
Every student that submits a piece of art will receive a certificate of recognition from Bronx Borough President, Ruben Díaz Jr. Most of the pieces will be exhibited at Applebee’s restaurant located at the Gateway Mall along with many other Roberto Clemente collectibles from December 10 - 31, 2010.
"The "21 Days of Clemente" is much more than an event to honor Clemente, it is an event to remember those that gave so much and the way that we live our lives. The fact that Latino Sports does this event every year in the middle of the most busiest month, December and the holiday season is a testament in itself," said Julio Pabon, CEO of Latino Sports Ventures, Inc.
Now in it's Ten-Year Anniversary, this year's "21 Days of Clemente" has been filled with wonderful surprises from it's presenters and audience members. In the past, guest speakers have included former Mets GM, Omar Minaya and Roberto Clemente's son, Roberto Jr.
For the Tenth Anniversary of the "21 Days of Clemente," things kicked off in Spanish Harlem where many of it's residents attended in honor of their own Barrio Activist, Willie Soto. While many outside of El Barrio may not be familiar with Mr. Soto, he was the individual who fought for his neighbor's rights and originally created the petitions to have Roberto Clemente's number retired.
Following Willie Soto's tribute, the "21 Days of Clemente" returned to the Bronx last week where our guest speaker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, David Maraniss was our guest speaker. The author of “Clemente – The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero” gave a passionate presentation followed by a Q&A session.
Last night's guest speaker was Dr. Socorro Duprey. Her presentation was unique in the sense that she wasn't a baseball fan who followed the career of Roberto Clemente. Rather she was a college student who met Roberto Clemente when she was a college student in the University of Puerto Rico.
Now a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Duprey stated she met Roberto Clemente when she was 15 years old when she first met Roberto Clemente on the University of Puerto Rico campus. "Roberto or Momen as well knew him would always visit his family once his baseball season was over," stated Dr. Duprey.
"In those days, Momen would come to our campus to hang out. He would always drive in his Cadillac and at some point of the day, he would give the other students a ride around campus. Having a strict grandmother, I never accepted a ride because I was terribly afraid of her," laughed Dr. Duprey.
One thing she wanted the audience to understand about Roberto Clemente was his nature. "Despite what the Media may have perceived of him, Momen was a humble but proud individual," expressed Dr. Duprey.
"You have to realize that at the time he played for the Pirates, he was wasn't considered a Puerto Rican. He was considered Black and the discrimination he endured was just as bad in those times," explained Dr. Duprey. "The thing with Momen is that when he took a stand, it wasn't because he wanted to show off. He simply wanted to be respected as one with dignity would."
In addition to her relationship with Roberto Clemente, Dr. Duprey educated us about the personal struggles she endured an educated Afro-Latina Puerto Rican living in the United States. She pointed out the similarities in the discrimination they both faced during the pre-Civil Rights Act times.
Following her presentation, audience members engaged in a discussion on how sports sometimes have a tendency to reflect the signs of that particular time in History. Next week, the "21 Days of Clemente" will conclude with Paul Kutch's presentation.
Mr. Kutch is regarded as one of the worlds largest Clemente collectors will speak on the value of collecting Clemente items and will have a display of many of his items.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for Latino Sports. You may follow him on Facebook and Twitter at @CoveringSoccer. For more sports news and Roberto Clemente, please follow Latino Sports at @LatinoSports143. Please feel free to email Cesar your questions and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.