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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Daughters of Legacy

CNN's TJ Holmes will be at the NAACP 99th Annual Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, July 14th. The 6:30pm session Holmes is participating in is entitled "The Great Debate" Public Mass Meeting: What's at Stake in '08? The State of Young Black America session will focus on young people and their views on key issues being discussed during the 2008 Presidential Elections. You don't have to be in Cincinnati to see the conference, it is being streamed on the internet.

Don Lemon's special Daughters of Legacy aired this weekend. Lemon was in the CNN Newsroom on Saturday talking to Fredricka Whitfield about the experience.

One of the women that Lemon speaks with is Sherry Poitier, the daughter of Sidney Poitier. Here's a short clip where she's talking about her father's dancing.

This was a fascinating special listening to these five women talk about their fathers.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
In the clip with Fredricka Whitfield, she mentions her father, Mal Whitfield. He won gold medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic games. This isn't the first time that Whitfield has mentioned her father on air. She interviewed him in July, 2005. Here's the transcript of the interview:

WHITFIELD: And now, back to England, where Brits are electrified by this morning's announcement that London will host the 2012 Olympic Games. A special fraternity of American athletes who competed in the 1948 London Olympics are over the top as well about the notion of the games coming full circle in their lifetime.

One of those Olympians, the mid-distance-running five time medalist, world record holder in the 800 meters, the man known as Marvelous Mal. I know him as Dad. Mal Whitfield joins us from Washington. Hello, Dad.


F. WHITFIELD: All right, well, when you heard the news today that the Olympics would be going back to London, the place of your first Olympics, the place where you won two gold medals, one in the 800, one in the 4-by-4 and a bronze in the 400, were you euphoric?

M. WHITFIELD: Oh, yes. I was quite pleased that the committee chose London for a repeat in the Olympic games because they really did a fabulous job following World War II in 1948 and kind of helping the world get back to some civil order, peace and prosperity for all men to be equal, at a time when the war had everybody in a different state of affairs.

F. WHITFIELD: And London certainly is a different place today versus 1948. But it would be awfully nostalgic for a lot of Olympians such as yourself to go back to the games in seven years and to see what it's going to be like for these Olympians of today. What was it like for you competing at Wembley Stadium?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, it was a great thrill for me because I was one of a team of over, I'd say, 37 Olympians, 37 teams strong, representing America, the United States of America. And those days, athletics was my style of interest. And I was 800 meter runner at that time, 400 meter runner and ran in the 4-by-400 meter relay team, winning two gold medals and one bronze. And of course, this was a childhood ambitious dream, like most any other child in America, anywhere in the world, is to want to have participated in the Olympic Games.

F. WHITFIELD: Wow. And there you are out in front in the pictures, number 136. I mean, look at the track and see -- it looked like a dirt track. And we're talking about a very wet London. It was muddy, wasn't it?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, you know, you can't expect what kind of climatic conditions will be in London for the Olympic Games, although things would be more modern than those days. And when you're talking about modern facilities and dresswear, let me show you what a sweatsuit looked like in the early days. Now, it doesn't suit me at all to wear this on the street in public, being shiny. But I do sleep in it during the wintertime.

F. WHITFIELD: So that's your sweatsuit from the 1948 games. How in incredible it is that you still have it. And lots of mementos from the games then. And when you look at the athletes now, Dad, and see what kind of equipment, the technology they have for the training, the kind of, you know, equipment they're using to run in, versus the kind of track shoes you were running in, what are you thinking? What do you think about that?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, things are so different today. Everything's modernization, high-tech. The performance of the athletes are far greater today than they were in those early days. However, we did our best to make a show for our countries, from wherever we come from. But the things that -- the athletics has been involved now today with heavy sponsorship. And sponsorship makes a tremendous amount of difference in performance and the ability to represent your country with elite style of fashion wear, which is the uniforms you wear, the facilities that you participate on. Synthetic composition of whatever makes a performance far better than what it used to be.

F. WHITFIELD: So I got to look at that jacket one more time. I got to see if it's going to fit me, you know, just in case I may want to borrow it sometime, Dad.

M. WHITFIELD: Well, it certainly will keep you warm. I wouldn't wear it on the street. As you see today, I wouldn't wear it on the street, but I sure as heck would wear it during the wintertime.

F. WHITFIELD: Well, it's great. And your track and field career went on from there, went on to flourish. It went on to the '52 Helsinki games, where, again, in the 800, you won gold, set a world record. You also brought home a silver in the 4-by-4.

And you became part of a handful of American athletes who would become goodwill ambassadors in sports. And while you were with the U.S. Information Agency and stationed in many countries in Africa -- now the G-8 Summit is beginning. I got to ask you about your experience, your intimate details and experience with Africa. How are you hoping that, if money is committed in large numbers for many of these G-8 leaders, how this money will go to African leaders and how they'll actually be disseminated to the African people? How hopeful are you that that will take place?

M. WHITFIELD: Well, it's hopeful. When you use good decisions in making assistance -- of providing financial assistance through the countries. Now, this is a very difficult situation. Say you got the money now, how to, you know, arrange your distribution of the money, where it should go first, based on what is needed. Discipline is really the key, in going back to the basics of the organization program. Planning and training and presentation is a necessity, distributing and free delivery of funds where they should go and who's in charge. It's a big job. It's going to be a bigger job than that, receiving the money for distribution.

F. WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Dad. Mal Whitfield. First time I get a chance to call you by your first name right to you, Dad. Mal Whitfield. Thanks so much, Dad, for your perspective on the G-8 Summit, Africa and, of course, the Olympic Games, now going to be hosted in London once again in 2012. And I look forward, Dad, to joining you in London for those Olympic Games when they happen.

M. WHITFIELD: We will be there.

F. WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks a lot.

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