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Eric Motley: When Character Stands Tall

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
January 17, 2023 3:02 am

Eric Motley: When Character Stands Tall

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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January 17, 2023 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, despite being generally liked by the fraternity he was rushing, some parents of the boys expressed their dismay at Eric's wanting to join the group. His would-be fraternity brothers put their enjoyment and reputations on the line to fight the unjustified hate.

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That's And today we're talking to Eric Motley. We've heard from Eric before about his life. Eric, you talk about how one of the most pivotal stories happened while you were at Samford University involving your pledging at a fraternity. It was a moment that displayed both the best and the worst in people.

Tell us about that. I was too naive to really know what a fraternity was. I arrived, Samford was predominantly a white university, and as much as the majority of the students there were people not of color, maybe there was 4 or 5% of a colored population, people of color, and that's minorities, Hispanic and African Americans. But I was in a wonderful Christian community and people embraced me and they seemed to be interested in me in as much as I was interested in them. And for sure maybe I was a bit eccentric and I was so intense on getting an education that everyone in the university knew that I was the first in the library in the morning and the last to leave the library.

And that became a bit of a joke, but a wonderful joke, an endearing joke. And then there were a group of upperclassmen who became friends and they encouraged me to go through rush because they thought it was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet more people and to be a part of a club that they were a part of, to experience something they felt fulfilling. And so I went through this experience with this fraternity and I felt really good about the people that I had met and their encouragement. But unbeknownst to me, underneath all of this there were parents who were greatly disturbed by the concept of this fraternity being integrated, let alone at Samford but in the state of Alabama because it had yet to be integrated in Alabama. And so those parents, and parents have wonderful influence as well as oftentimes not so great influence on us, greatly expressed their concerns to their kids and encouraged them to oppose me. And to make a very long story short but interesting, on the very night that a vote was to be taken, I was going to be blackballed and there were a group of students who had organized themselves and their arguments around all the reasons that I should not be a member of this fraternity.

And they were not really sound reasons. And one student found a group of them singing a song using not so great lyrics or words that are not great or words that we're told not to use now about people of color. And that student and a group of other students did what they believed was right. There were a group of about six or seven students who had gone to the final four up in Atlanta, Georgia. And someone wrote them, called them and said, it doesn't look like it's going to be promising for Eric. And I know that you wanted to be here for the vote and that you were going to get here at the end of the meeting, but it might require you're getting here as soon as possible. And they left the final four.

Could you believe that these college seniors leaving the final four basketball competitions and driving some five to six hours back to Birmingham in order to be at a fraternity meeting at the start of it so they could address their fellow fraternity members. And they challenged them. And they said, you know, the reasons that you're given are not the reasons why. And we are aware that a good number of your parents have reached out to others to encourage them to vote against Eric.

But there is no way that we can graduate after four years of being here. And after the experience of getting to know this guy and not believing in doing what is right and really stepping up. And to me, it's a wonderful reminder that from time to time, we're all called to challenge the moral complacency of a leisure and secular society. That we're all called to do what's right. In that same letter that we referenced about Martin Luther King, there's a line that disturbs me. He said, it's not the people who are overtly doing wrong.

It is the deafening silence of the good people that disturb me most. And in that one moment, the seven, eight young men decided that they would take off their fraternity pins and lay them on a table. And to say that we feel so strongly about doing what is right, that we're willing to give up our membership in this group. And in that one quiet, unheralded act, they influenced all of the members of that fraternity, save one, to vote for my membership. Now, what is beautiful and profound about that story is not just that unheralded act of heroism, but the fact that I did not learn until I moved here to Washington DC.

So that's from 1996 to 2001. I did not learn the narrative that took place. And it took place because one friend of mine who had had too much to drink one night phoned me and ended up telling me more than he ever planned on telling me about what actually transpired. And what I learned was that those same group of students organized themselves and paid my fraternity dues for those two years. They never wanted me to know the story.

They never wanted me to know the names of the students who opposed me. They only wanted me to experience the community that they believed could be realized when good people do what is right and encourage other people who are good to overcome their prejudices. And that is Eric Motley and one heck of a story about so much. Madison Park is the name of the book. It's filled with stories like this, a remarkable place, a remarkable upbringing, a remarkable community. Madison Park, a place of hope.

Go to and get it. Eric Motley's story, his fraternity story, not like the rest of the pledges, but my goodness, what lessons learned about life and about courage here on Our American Stories. John Brace here from your favorite new podcast, Brace for Winnings. It's where we talk all things wagering on the NFL. New episodes will be available every Thursday to get you ready for the primetime action and all the big games going down over the NFL weekend. We will cook up same game parlay strategies, cover all the money making matchups and look to find what we all want when we place a bet, winning wagers. At the end of every episode, I will make you a better better on the NFL. So you're witching our wagers turn from red to green teasers, totals, awards, props and locks. Brace for Winnings is a one stop pod for anyone who enjoys action on the NFL DraftKings Sportsbook and official sports betting partner of the NFL is where I go when I place a bet. Be sure to head over to DraftKings Sportsbook and use my code winnings for a special signup offer today.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-17 04:27:57 / 2023-01-17 04:34:07 / 6

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