As we begin another Black History Month in America, it is imperative that we have a real discussion about the state of Black America. If there is one issue that must be addressed it is the decimation of the traditional two parent Black family.

In his op-ed piece for the Washington Post, former NFL tight end, and Texas A&M graduate, Martellus Bennett provides a personal perspective on this issue. He asks an important question: Why aren’t young black boys encouraged to dream of being something other than athletes?

My personal experience was a special one. My father was a World War II veteran. My godfather, William “Stickey” Jackson, was a Tuskegee Airman and World War II veteran. My older brother was a Marine in the Vietnam War. I was not admonished to be an athlete—I was challenged to be the first commissioned officer in our family.

My jersey was the uniform of my country, just as it was with my heroes, my father and older brother. The Texas Public Policy Foundation and its Booker T. Washington Initiative are committed to policy solutions that open up every door of opportunity, not just for black boys as the op-ed addresses, but for all American children.

As Booker T. Washington knew, education was truly the great equalizer. And, we have learned after the failed policies of The Great Society, strong families, with role models that provide positive examples, are the tide that enables all boats to rise, and set sail.

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