In The News
Opening of Eddie G. Robinson Museum at Grambling
writes happy ending to decade-plus journey
First-class exhibit honors legendary coach
By Denny Dressman
At the dedication ceremony for the Eddie G. Robinson Museum on a bone-chilling Saturday in early February of 2010, Wilbert Ellis, one of Coach Robinson's closest friends, stepped to the podium to deliver closing remarks before the official ribbon-cutting.
|Banners adorn the building that houses the Eddie G. Robinson Museum on the Grambling State University campus.|
Coach Ellis had worked with Eddie for more than 40 years and was instrumental in making the Museum a reality – THIRTEEN YEARS after it was first proposed.
A reserved man not known for theatrics or showmanship, Ellis unfolded a piece of paper – his "dedication speech" – and prepared to address the audience. But before he began to speak, he stopped, fumbled with a pocket of his overcoat, then pulled out and flipped open his cell phone.
"Wait! I have a call," he told the crowd.
"Please! Be quiet so I can hear."
Scattered voices fell silent, and everyone listened to his side of the ensuing conversation.
"Yes. This is Ellis...
Ellis covered his phone and told everyone:
"It's Coach Robinson."
Then he continued.
"Well, Coach, we're dedicating that Museum in your honor – the one we started talking about in 1997 but couldn't get off the ground for 10 years...
"What? Yes, Coach. You're right...
"In America, the greatest country in the world... ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE."
The crowd broke into hearty laughter as Ellis delivered his punch line. They knew what a struggle it had been. And they knew that Coach Rob's belief in America was the hallmark of his illustrious coaching career, as well as the foundation of his life as a role model for generations of African Americans during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement.
What many didn't know, however, were the details of the long road that led to this grand moment.