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Center Jason Brown Teaches About African American Trailblazers in Pro Football

Posted Feb 17, 2011

The impact of technology in the classroom is vital in schools today, and the benefits of having those resources can provide value to both students and teachers. One such benefit is having the ability to teleconference with someone in another part of the country, something students at the St. Louis Charter School experienced on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

As part of Black History Month, Rams center Jason Brown visited 100 sixth grade students at the St. Louis Charter School to discuss African American Trailblazers in Pro Football and the role they had on developing the game into what it is today. As an added element to the discussion, Brown and the students were able to video conference with Jerry Csaki, a representative from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Csaki and Brown teamed up to lead the discussion about the contributions of African American football pioneers, utilizing available technology to help the students gain a deeper understanding of how these trailblazers impacted the game of football.

“There are many reasons we feel very blessed to have this appearance,” Head of School Julie Frugo said. “A real world application, I think, brings it to a different level for our kids. The integration of technology and to be able to do some distance learning, along with having somebody famous from the community, brought the whole experience to a great level.”

Brown began the program by introducing the topic of discussion and Csaki, who participated live via video conference from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Csaki began his presentation by familiarizing students with the Hall of Fame, its location and what types of artifacts and exhibits are on display. Some of the artifacts that sat behind him during the presentation included Peyton Manning’s game jersey from his third “perfect game”, an official football from Super Bowl XL and Rams quarterback Sam Bradford’s game-worn jersey from Week 17 of the 2010 season.

After explaining the role of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Csaki introduced the topic of African American history in the pro football and the types of transitions the NFL went through during its history. He began the discussion and asked the students a variety of trivia questions relating to the African American Trailblazers, lessons the students had been learning in their respective classes to prepare them for an interactive, educational experience. The students saw parts of the NFL Films video Black Star Rising, which reinforced what Csaki and Brown discussed. Brown also shared with the students the story of his grandfather, Jasper Brown, who protested the segregation of schools in North Carolina. Jason described the challenges his grandfather faced during his fight, including death threats on his family.

“We learned a lot about the NFL trailblazers back in the day that have impacted the wonderful sport that we participate in today,” Brown said. “The students had a great time and learned how African Americans pioneered the way, not only for the sport of football, but also for the wonderful world that we live in.”

At the end of the interactive discussion, the students asked a variety of questions, ranging from how Brown made it into the NFL, to what he would be doing if he was not playing professional football. During the Q&A session, Brown explained the importance of staying in school, learning as much as possible about one’s desired career choice and how his education has helped him throughout his career. The interaction among the students, Brown and Csaki made for a truly unique experience, one that would not be possible without today’s technology.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Brown said. “One of the best things is that it was an interactive experience, via satellite, with another professional with the Hall of Fame organization. The kids interacted with questions and a lot of media, they watched videos and I was able to participate as well, it was a great event.”