VB The Wise: Red Auerbach: African American Legend

PHOTO: Getty Images

Ever since the Boston Police Department tweeted out there now infamous "honor Red Auerbach" during Black History Month message, I've had friend after friend defend the concept. "Why" they say, "shouldn't Red be honored? He was absolutely significant to the African American movement in Boston and should be highlighted for his contributions." So, since "White" Boston wants to defend the tweet so much, may I at least ask you to consider the following two questions:

  1. If I asked 1000 African American Bostonians, in January, to suggest five people to be honored in February for Black History Month, would Red Auerbach's name have appeared on ANY of those lists?
  2. If I asked you to name five WHITE Bostonians who are worthy of being honored during Black History month, should Red Auerbach's name appear on that list? I'll start with William Lloyd Garrison, then go to Robert Gould Shaw, then Theodore Parker, Charles Sumner, and finally Judge Arthur Garrity. That would be my list, and Red isn't close to cracking it.

In no way is this meant to diminish or take away from Red Auerbach's contributions to African Americans and to Boston. He made way more of a contribution than to the African American cause than I could ever hope to, and he should be remembered and applauded for it. But, and it is a big but, Black History Month is NOT the time nor the place for such honors. Black History Month was and is supposed to draw attention to African Americans who made significant contributions, NOT white Americans who did. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why White Bostonians feel the need to argue with me on this.

More wisdom next week.


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