Don Roberts

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m NOT Gay… but my brother was.

February 10th, 2014 at 3:09 pm by under Community, Health, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports, Uncategorized

Michael ROBERTS died in 1985… of AIDS. When he finally “came out of the closet” he went straight to a hospital bed. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ravaged his body. At peak health he stood six feet three, two hundred twenty five pounds. At death, I could’ve carried him in one arm while holding a stack of his lesson plans in the other. The only things that terrified this former middle school teacher -as much as the disease’s death sentence- were having to tell our parents he was ill- and why.

Michael also worried about another thing… the world finding out about his illness through the efforts of a persistent reporter. Consider the times: In ’85,  the average Joe and Jane  were terrified of being in the SAME ROOM with someone who was gay. Homosexual black males were at high risk of contracting AIDS and HIV, then. And, too many people thought they could “catch it” if an infected person just breathed on you.  So, a teacher, with AIDS, and charged with caring for 30 rambunctious kids all day? That would have been BREAKING NEWS. Thankfully, my big bro’s “story” never made the headlines.

Michael Sam_image Michael Sam -3 nfl_mortscheft_sam

 

 

 

 

Fast forward 30 years to 2014… another MICHAEL, (about the same SIZE as my brother) is proudly telling the world he is gay. Michael Sam  made an ANNOUNCEMENT on ESPN. My, My, My, how times have changed. SAM, a star defensive end at UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, thus could become the first openly gay  player in the NFL. Now, I’m as guilty as the next man of selective amnesia – my initial reaction to SAM’S interview with ESPN was- “Why do you have to make an announcement? Your sexual preferences are your business! Just do your talking on the field!” Up to this point, there are no “known” homosexual players in the NFL. Guys have said they suspect there are some on each team, but with hyper aggressive players like Ritchie Incognito running roughshod over locker rooms, it’s no surprise no one dares speak up.

KATIE COLLETT heard me thinking out loud this a-m and offered a timely perspective- that may or may not have been SAM’S’ thinking. She said she, too, has a gay relative. And that relative endured some stressful times due to lack of acceptance in the broader, heterosexual community. But, here’s where she hit the nail on the head. She said – maybe MICHAEL SAM “came out” so the next kid won’t have to… He, or she, can just “be.”

I immediately thought of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his roommate posted video of him in a sexual act with his male partner. Gay student Tyler Clementi _190-articleInline-v2

Tyler Clementi  told his parents he was gay, just days before heading off to college.

Michael SAM will soon be graduating, I imagine, with his head held high, and fully capable of “taking off” anyone else’s head who wants to give him some grief over being gay. Good luck in the draft, the locker room, the field, and life.

Michael ROBERTS hated football. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he looked down from the heavenly grandstand to applaud a good hit.


Free At Last? Not Yet.

January 20th, 2014 at 9:35 am by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, News, Personalities, Politics, Uncategorized

mlk-_1389523638      I think an 85 year old ML KING would probably be crying today. SATURDAY a HANDFUL of Newport News residents took to the streets, in his name, MARCHING FOR PEACE. SUNDAY, two fools took to the same street, but just four blocks away- FIRING GUNS at each other. A 71 year old man got hit and killed. A Pastor VENTS -and calls for the MAYOR to “do something.” McKinley Price has – leading the effort to bring in a new top crime fighter. Police Chief RICHARD MYERS was sworn in Friday. Criminals were not impressed. But sadly, neither were/are some residents – residents who continue to look the other way -or have nothing to say- while these criminals continue to try and control the streets. *AND* this latest shooting comes on top of the ONGOING search for the guy who’s ATTACKING WOMEN. One victim told me he grabbed her bag- knocking her off her feet – just outside her house, around 430pm! And she says she LATER found out she was likely his 4th victim. She was frustrated at not having heard any alert or warning about the other 3 crimes -also in the south east community.

     If only more EAST END residents would VENT and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, but also, finally realize their POWER!! You can do that- by doing 3 things TODAY: a-INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THAT NEIGHBOR YOU DON’T KNOW; b- AGREE TO LOOK OUT FOR HIM/HER, AS THEY LOOK OUT FOR YOU; c- CALL 9-1-1, or that NEW CHIEF- directly!!! to report what you’ve seen- like that knucklehead that you know carries a gun- or deals drugs, or hides out in a specific public housing unit. Only when “we” realize that there are MORE good people than “bad”- and that EVIL can only FLOURISH when GOOD PEOPLE DO NOTHING- will we truly be Free At Last!


Smile!

January 8th, 2014 at 10:55 am by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, Personalities

MARCIA D. BANKS-ALSTON imagesShe’s probably doing that right now- even though my sister-in-law, Marcia, is waking up in a Charlotte, North Carolina hospital room -minus her lower left leg.

Marcia seems to have always found a reason to smile- at least in the 30+ years I’ve know her. She would smile when one of her deaf and blind students would learn a new “sign” at the former Virginia School in Hampton. She’d proudly show off those pearly whites when one of her teens at a Newport News high school would “drop back in” to classes. And, recently, she couldn’t stop smiling as members of her Carolina church enthusiastically took their faith outside the sanctuary- and into some of Charlotte’s toughest neighborhoods. They swept streets and probably saved some souls in the process.

Today, Marcia is smiling through the pain-while believing that she’s beaten DIABETES. Oh, yeah! That debilitating illness may have claimed her leg, but not her spirit. And she would smile, knowing that, after YOU read this, you’re going to check with your doctor to assess your risk for it. Strange thing- neither Marcia’s dad or mother had diabetes. My side of the family? Dad HAD it, and  mom HAS it now. I know what I have to do: watch my weight, cut back on sugary, fatty and fried foods, drink more water, and step up the exercise. But how about YOU? Next check up- get tested.

Smiling through it all.

Smiling through it all.

Somehow, Marcia will know- or at least *feel it- as she goes on to claim a  VICTORY:

Marcia has this gift of a new day, and a new start to the rest of her life.


Health Screaming! (I meant: SCREENING)

November 14th, 2013 at 11:30 am by under Community, Health, Personalities, Uncategorized

HEALTH SCREENING on the job? Bring it on! It should be no problem, but, What if…?Health Screening images I try to stay in shape with my little daily routine- push-ups, stretching, squats- in between sprints to the coffee machine(and bathroom). But I still felt a little STRESSED OUT-because, I do wonder: will the wrong numbers JACK UP my premiums?! THAT could cause a heart attack!! I later found out it won’t.

SO, after the NOON show-basically the end of my  330a-1:30p workday (that’s another post)- I start to get a little “tight.”  I begin to OVERTHINK this thing: Flashbacks to EVERY “bad” item I recently ATE (An ALMOND JOY I snatched from my grand daughter’s T-O-T bucket; a slice of cheese PIZZA from Costco (Hey! We do get a MINUTE to get out!!) and the ONE-AND-A HALF-CUPS OF COFFEE……. okay, okay…. AND hot chocolate mix-YUM! (busted). It’s from the *New* instant brewing machine in the green room. The boss had it installed 2 DAYS AGO! Hmmmm: new coffee machine on Monday- health screening on Wednesday… DID THEY CALIBRATE the caffeine content? – those beans were kinda dark? And, WHY WERE TWO OF THE HEALTH SCREENING *TECHNICIANS* IN THE GREEN ROOM, NEAR THE NEW COFFEE MACHINE, *AT *THE *PRECISE *TIME *I WALKED IN??

Okay,okay,okay… breathe in… breathe out… nice and slow. Gotta get the blood pressure down. IX-NAY on cup #2.5. Time to GIT-R-DUN.. do NOT run up the steps- it’ll increase my heart rate. Drink water- YEAH! That’ll dilute the ALMOND JOY. “Poink!” …blood test done. Yes, mine is RED despite my affinity for STAR TREK. Blood pressure? Hold up, wait a minute- IT *WAS HIGHER than usual!! See? What did I say?? CHOLESTEROL: UNDER 180- BAMM!!! And then, she “RED-FLAGS me- for, of all things, my WEIGHT! “What-chu-talkin-bout, Willis?!” A buck- 70 at 5′ 8″ AND-A-HALF. She said I was OVERWEIGHT!!!! SAY WHAT?!? I almost had a HEART ATTACK! …until she came back with the caveat- “That’s okay for a guy- we allow a little extra poundage for muscle.” AW, YEAH! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! “Honey, I’m on my way home! FIRE UP THE GRILL, GET THE CHITTERLINGS READY!”


Veterans: Good and Plenty

November 7th, 2013 at 3:29 pm by under Military, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports

6 was good enough for Matthew Plenty. That’s how many children this AIR FORCE veteran had between wives’ one, and two. And he also loved his COWBOYS! That always made for some good conversation during the few times I visited his Newport News home. Mr. Plenty could talk some “smack” about WASHINGTON. After retiring from the AIR FORCE and settling into a civil service job at FORT EUSTIS, the PLENTYs’ welcomed my wife’s family by their East End homestead all the time. I recall first meeting him at our wedding in 1982! And although my wife stayed in touch with the kids, we hadn’t seen him much over the years- one of those friends you kinda knew was always there. Always. Until Monday. I vividly recall my wife’s reaction when she learned Mr. Plenty had died. She knew he was sick, in home hospice care. We planned to visit, tomorrow.. but LIFE got in the way. I hear he had some fascinating stories to tell about his military service. But now he’s takes those stories with him. TOMORROW now becomes TODAY. I’m finalizing plans, along with a colleague over at SUNTRUST BANK in downtown Norfolk, to talk to- actually, HONOR, some other VETERANS, who have some stories to tell. I personally know two of them. Mr JULIUS GREEN is the husband of my wife’s best friend, Rosalyn. Every now and then, “Roz” would drop a dime about Mr Green’s ARMY years, duty in Korea, Germany, Fort Eustis. Only after pressing for details did I learn that he was the Army’s first African American MASTER DIVER; or in other words, the Army’s version of CARL BRASHEAR.

He was the Army's CARL BRASHEAR

Army Master Diver

Poking around a little more, I learned Mr. Green attended Warrant Officer School with his neighbor, and another friend of mine, JOHN E. GRAGG… That’s Army Chief Warrant Officer 3, John Gragg. He went on to become the ARMY’s first African American BOAT CAPTAIN.

The Army's first African American boat captain

The Army’s first African American boat captain

Gragg says he was the captain of the big tug that helped pull this ARMY VESSEL OFF a sand bar in the James River in March of 1972. And, boy, does he have more stories to tell.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

Both plan to share them with us at a reception in their honor, 10 AM, FRIDAY, 09NOV13, at SUNTRUST BANK, 150 West Main Street, downtown Norfolk, 12th floor. Also being honored this day, a “young man” who earned 3 PURPLE HEARTS, the hard way. Retired Army Ranger William “Joey” Pocan. TOMORROW is TODAY…The time is now to say THANK YOU to these, and all outstanding veterans. I hope they’ll take a moment to tell us a story.


Headlines hit home: Cyber bullies and my grandchildren

October 17th, 2013 at 3:38 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities

I love it when my 9 year old grandson, Christion, visits. He’s growing up so quickly! He has twin 6 year old “baby” sisters, Sonaia and Simone. And there’s one more- Leila- who’s 12. They are sooo smart- AND- very proficient with technology. Christion is my focus here. He and the “fam” all live in Roanoke. And, whenever they visit, Christion loves to play games on my cell  phone and laptop. He especially likes interacting with people, he thinks, are kids his age, in online “gaming” and other seemingly harmless sites. As soon as I figured out what he was doing, (Hey!, I’m 57! Yeah, yeah, no excuse) we limited his time, observed,  then just simply cut it off.  He admitted he didn’t personally know who he was talking to. Now, I’m hearing this troubling story: 12 and 14 year old girls could serve jail time for CYBER BULLYING 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick, pictured here. Rebecca couldn’t take it anymore, so, she committed suicide. CYBER bullying Rebecca Sedwick 1374118_583393441708647_1765423216_sAnd it appears the PARENTS of the two kids charged, and those whose kids bully- could bare responsibility. I was bullied when I was a kid – BUT I had great parental support, AND, I outgrew the bullies and their attacks. This online stuff is proving to be exponentially more dangerous since it’s PERMANENT, WORLDWIDE and ANONYMOUS!  Christion has limited access to computers at his home – as far as I know. But he has friends with cellphones, tablets and other connections. And then there are the kids will all that access, and NO SUPERVISION or, as we called it in my family- “no home training.”  Those kids could scar CHRISTION, for life, with one “tap.” I, and CHRISTION’S parents, will continue to monitor what he does online, and shut it down if we don’t approve. We have to. Lives are at stake. We’ll “train him up” as best we know how, and keep pointing him in the “right” direction. Then, we’ll turn him loose on the world – hoping and praying  he’ll “turn ‘it’ off”  on his own, and just TALK to someone FACE TO FACE! How ’bout that for a unique idea?


Hot Coffee in Hampton Roads

September 11th, 2013 at 2:16 pm by under Military, News, Personalities, Uncategorized
Hot Coffee bringing a smile to our faces

Don, Lucinda and Robert celebrating “Hot Coffee!

One of the benefits of my working at WAVY TV/FOX43 is the opportunity to meet all kinds of people -AND- travel to “exotic locations.” Now, I haven’t had the chance to travel lately but the “exotic location” has come to Me (in a manner of speaking).

Meet Lucinda McDonald and her brother Robert Crosby. Luncinda joined the WAVY staff a couple of months ago. She’s the lovely lady behind the “voice” you hear when you call us. Her brother just happened to be in town, enjoying some down time from his job in the Navy. I met him in the green room after a recent MIDDAY news. I kinda knew he was in the military because he was so friendly. Come to find out, he’s a former navy cook who rose through the ranks and is now a Lieutenant Commander on a submarine. Robert’s on assignment now with a Congressman in DC. Well, we got to talking about hometowns. Mine, Baltimore. His, HOT COFFEE, MISSISSIPPI. “You’re kidding?” I said. “Nope. It’s a real town, Hot Coffee, Mississippi.” I almost fell out laughing, especially when he told me, “Yes, Hot Coffee does have *a* traffic light.” Hey, if YOU are from, or have visited, a “unique” town, tell me about it here or on my Facebook page.


Hope

March 29th, 2011 at 10:00 am by under News, Personalities, Uncategorized

How the heck are you? Mighty fine here. No complaints- BUT, if you have a minute, here’s a quick summary of my morning: I flew out the door at “oh-dark-thirty” this a-m; Frost on the car, 30 degrees on the ‘therm (I thought the calendar read SPRING?) “Check-Engine” light on-(Cha Ching! Just let me make it to work, please?) And, once here: HEADLINES: Another young man shot in a local drive-by; A woman hit by a fork-lift and killed;  and, more leaking radiation in Japan.

BUT,

as the day progresses, I pray it will get better. I believe it will. Check out this beautiful evidence of … hope- in Japan.

Cherry blossoms in Japan

Sri Chimoy wrote:

“Hope abides; Therefore I abide.

Countless frustrations have not cowed me.

I am still alive, vibrant with life.

The black cloud will disappear,

The morning sun will appear once again

in all its supernal glory.”

Make it a great day. Don R.


Chasing A Dream…Farewell To A “Friend”

February 11th, 2011 at 4:03 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities, Sports, Uncategorized

Ritina Arrington - future Supreme Court Justice

Ritina Arrington -WAVY TV’s Young Achiever
RITINA ARRINGTON has a big dream… to run right on through high school, college and law school, eventually to a seat on the Supreme Court.  Ritina’s dreams, and accomplishments, got our attention here at WAVY TV. She excels on the track and cross country teams at Norfolk’s BOOKER T. WASHINGTON high school. And Ritina is handling her business in the classroom, and out in the community where, I understand, she makes time to volunteer. Super kid, right? We thought so too. So, Ritina is the latest “Hampton Roads Young Achiever.” It’s our way of recognizing young people who are outstanding, and provide the community with “good news.”  You’ll soon see Ritina’s “spots” all over WAVY TV 10.  
     Back to Ritina’s dream.
Jessie Jackson once said:   ”IF YOU CAN CONCEIVE IT, AND BELIEVE IT, YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT.”
I’d like to add:
“DREAM A BIG DREAM… AND SHOCK YOURSELF. MAKE THAT DREAM COME TRUE… AND SHOCK THE WORLD!”
But, should we be shocked if this soon-to-be B-T-W graduate eventually takes a seat on the Supreme Court? Afterall, the odds are long and the stumbling blocks- high. Well, the answer is NO. There’s already a precedent for a black kid from Norfolk to sit on the high bench- of the Virginia Supreme Court.

 Sadly, we said goodbye to him this weekend.

Justice Leroy Roundtree Hassell 1955-2011

Leroy Roundtree Hassell was also a big dreamer while at Norfolk’s NORVIEW HIGH SCHOOL.  He died Wednesday at age 55. A celebration of his life was held Saturday in Richmond just as the month-long celebration of the history he helped to make- kicks into full gear.

 I didn’t know Leroy Roundtree Hassell. But I knew of  him after the 30 second story crossed my desk in 2002.  The headline read something like: “Black Norfolk Lawyer Elected Chief Justice of Virginia Supreme Court.” BOOM-SHA-KA-LA-KA! 

 Like many blacks, I still “count.” “Oh! He’s the first black- this, or the only black- that.” Each “first” representing one step forward, or one more wrong that’s been righted, or one more opportunity to prove “Yes, I can, Yes, ‘we’ can” – after generations of “no you can’t's…”  I also “count” my news stories everyday- noting the number of African Americans killed and convicted of crimes. In some weeks it averages about 4 a day! Do the math.

 Leroy Roundtree Hassell dreamed big dreams. Like RITINA, his mother and father encouraged him in the home. Classmates challenged him at NORVIEW HIGH. University of Virginia rewarded him with “scholar of the year” honors, and a degree in 1977.  Harvard pushed him to expand his intellectual limits before conveying upon him a law degree in 1980.
 A few years later, the international law firm McGuire Woods paid him, in a sense, to keep on dreaming (and documenting! :-)    In 1989, Governor Gerald Baliles called him… and then named 34 year old Leroy Roundtree Hassell to the Virginia Supreme Court. And when his fellow justices elected him “chief” – Hassell became the first black to get the top job and the first justice to ever to be elected by other members of the court.  Students like Ritina could look to the state’s highest court and actually see someone who looks like her and was from her neighborhood! She could then say: “If he could do it…”

Hey, Ritina, as I’m sure your parents and mentors are teaching you, success is about more than just the books. On the passing of Leroy Roundtree Hassell. Governor Baliles said:

“I valued his friendship, his contributions to the commonwealth and the country, and respected his intergrity, intellectual depth and commitment to access to justice for all our people, regardless circumstance.”

Local attorney and WAVY NEWS 10 legal contributor Eric Moody said of Justice Hassell:
 ”…The Commonwealth of Virginia is well known for its propensity to maintain the status quo, and the judiciary is one of the leading examples of this tendency. Notwithstanding his position and credentials, Justice Hassell was a non-conformist in his thoughts and actions. He wrote several dissenting opinions sharply disagreeing with his colleagues on the bench. Notably an historic figure in being the “first” in a number of positions as an African American, he readily shunned that title.
Mr. Moody continues:  ”To say that ‘his shoes will be hard to fill’ does a disservice to the impact and the role he has played in government and in Virginia history. His model as one who can overcome formidable obstacles with hard work and preparation, ranks with some of the great icons of our time. Young people will for many years to come hear his name associated with the power of education to allow them to reach their goals, and the impact that strength of character has on ones ability to excel.”
 
Hey, RITINA, I think you already know the words to that song. Keep singing, and keep running towards your goal. And even after you reach it, please keep on volunteering- making time to sing loud enough for the younger kids to hear you… Kids in schools DREAM KEEPERS ACADEMY in Norfolk, and ACHIEVABLE DREAM in Newport News- any school for that matter. 

Students at Achievable Dream School, NN

By the way, two final thoughts, RITINA: 1) You have a beautiful name that’s uniquely yours… and 2) There are two seats now open on the Virginia Supreme Court. Hmmm.


YOUTH Got Talent… ADULTS have hope!

February 3rd, 2011 at 11:36 am by under News, Personalities, Uncategorized
 

Contestants in the Va's Youth Got Talent program

What an assignment!  Gettin’ beat up by angry Egyptians on a Cairo street? No. Wrapping myself around a utility pole, holding on for dear life during the recent winter blast in CHICAGO?  Nah. I was kickin’ back in the elegant confines of the Murray Center in downtown NORFOLK– getting blown away by some pretty special young people. They were giving me, and photographer Rob Rizzo, a “taste” of what’s to come this Saturday, 2/05/11, during an “American Idol” type talent program. Going in, I had my doubts. Coming out, I am a believer. Our talented youth, the artists of today and tomorrow, offer us old folks much reason for hope.
 
Our objective with this  Hometown HOTSPOT  story was to capture a few moments of the contestants who were among 18 finalists in this Saturday’s ”Virginia’s Youth Got Talent” program. V-Y-G-T is a creation of Ms. Robin LaLande (on the far left). We’d aired the story on our morning show at 6:25, Wednesday.
 
 

We here at WAVY get calls all the time to cover youth events. But the show’s producer, Ms LaLande, was soooo persistent.  She was justing fighting for a little “spotlight” on these special “kids.”  All could sing. But it was WHAT they sung that’s still ringing in my ears….

The first performers- 12 year old Veronica Zamora (in the white hat) and her 13 year old sister “Vickie Jade,” covered the Leonard Cohen classic- Hallelujah. I was shocked that kids that young were true to the passion of such a “heavy” lyric: 

“It’s not a cry that you hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light… it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.”

Next was  17 year old Aaron- BIG AARON- Mathews- with a song he says he wrote and arranged: 

“Woke up this morning… with a bad headache and I… don’t know if I’m gonna die… but I just keep movin. And as I’m walkin’ down the street, I see people hatin’ on me.. but I just smile and wave… and then I keep movin…”

21 year old Jordan Clark was the finale of this mini-performance, interpreting Alicia Keys’ ANGEL:

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong anywhere.. and it’s gonna take so long for me to get somewhere… Sometimes I feel so heavy-hearted and I can’t explain caused I’m so guarded…but that’s a lonely road to travel  and a heavy load to bear.. and it’s a long long way to heaven… but I gotta get there…”

No mindless, self-respect-less rappin’, no skin tight, innapropriate outfits, here. It was as if each performer was carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders- hoping for some release -  on stage. LaLande says they’ll get it Saturday, 1pm at the Murray Center. I’m a witness. Virginia Youth GOT talent! And with their performance, we all should have hope.