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Old 05-21-2009, 12:16 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Column: Most Steelers will savor the moment

Column: Most Steelers will savor the moment
By Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff
Published: Thursday, May 21, 2009 12:07 AM EDT
Like most of their teammates, Mewelde Moore and Max Starks can’t wait to meet the president.

Like most Steelers, they are thrilled that the most powerful man in the world will take time from his busy schedule to pay tribute to the reigning Super Bowl champs today at the White House.

There are some who may think that a president hosting championship sports teams is wasting his time. Don’t count Moore and Starks among the skeptics. They are thrilled to be part of the ceremony.

For Moore and Starks, today’s visit is especially significance. Because of what their relatives experienced in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, they were genuinely touched by Barack Obama becoming the first African-American to be elected president of the United States.

“For me coming from the South, this means a little more,” said Starks, the mammoth tackle. “Battling through segregation, battling through racism, my family has had its part in civil rights history. That’s something I take great pride it.

“My family is from Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia. Those weren’t the friendliest places (for African-Americans) back then. So for me to grow up and hear their stories and to see where we are now as a nation, you can understand why I’m so excited about meeting President Obama.”

One of Starks’ great grandfathers was Homer D. Coke, one of the first black radio broadcasters in Birmingham. He was a friend of Martin Luther King and a member of Birmingham’s Sixth Street Baptist Church, the site of a 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed four young girls.

Moore, a versatile running back, also has Southern roots. He was born in Hammond, La., a city located a half-hour by car from both Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Moore’s grandfather, M.C. Moore, was also a civil rights activist. He orchestrated a law in Hammond that required every high school in the Tangipahoa Parish to hire at least one African-American head coach.

“If I would have the chance to have an audience with President Obama, the first thing I’d tell him is that ‘You’re doing a heck of a job. You’re a great role model and inspiration to all of us,’ ” Moore said.

“It starts with his confidence, his perseverance and his intellect. He’s definitely a bright star in this whole operation.”

Last week when informed about today’s White House visit, Moore immediately went through his wardrobe to select the proper attire for such an occasion. He settled on a chic gray three-piece suit with a pink and white tie.

“I have to look good for the president,” he said.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com.
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