Dean Smith Awarded Presidential Medal Of Freedom

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former UNC men’s basketball coach Dean Smith ceremoniously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday morning.

“Dean Smith is one of the winningest coaches in basketball history,” President Barak Obama said. “But his successes go far beyond Xs and Os. Even as he won 78 percent of his games, he graduated 96 percent of his players.”

***Listen to the Ceremony***

President Obama said Smith was a courageous man on the sideline and outside of the gym.

“He recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helped integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill,” President Obama said. “That’s the kind of character that he represented on and off the court.”

Fifteen other men and women were honored at the White House for the 50th Anniversary of the Medal of Freedom.

President John F. Kennedy signed the executive order in 1963. Since then, more than 500 people have received the highest civilian honor.

“We salute fierce competitors who became true champions,” President Obama said.

Some of the others that were honored include baseball player, Ernie Banks, former president, Bill Clinton, the youngest American and first American woman in space, the late Sally Ride, and media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

On the court, Smith won two national championships and when he retired, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history. But it is the humble man’s work away from the sport that truly set him apart and deems Smith worthy of the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Taking a stand in a time period when many high-profile figures sat on the sidelines, Smith used his position to advocate for civil rights. In fact, Smith recruited UNC’s first black scholarship athlete and helped in Chapel Hill’s desegregation process in the 1960’s.

Many of his players called Smith a “second father” and his leadership of these young men led to an impressive 96 percent graduation rate.

Gay Marriage Now Legal In MN, RI, And DC

Courtesy of Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS – Marriage ceremonies started at midnight for gay couples in Minnesota, where same-sex marriage is now legal.

Minnesota officials estimate that about 5,000 gay couples will marry in the first year of the new law.

Laws legalizing same-sex marriage also took effect today in Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

4/4: A 44-Year Reflection

Today is 4/4 and 44 years ago, that date was one that is defining for a generation.  I’m sure that the classmates and friends I was with also remember it as if it were yesterday.  It was a Thursday evening, and I was in a student government meeting in the Student Center at Howard University in Washington, D.C..  And since it was Thursday – ROTC day – I was still in my uniform.  Before the meeting was over, someone came into the room and told us that someone had shot Dr. King in Memphis.  A hush fell over the room, and a few short minutes later, someone else came back to tell us that Dr. King had been pronounced dead.

We left the Student Center, and before I got to my car a block or two away, I could smell smoke and see flames; Washington was starting to burn.  I got to my apartment off 17th Street NW and was thankful that the fires and rioting hadn’t moved up as far north as I was.  Arriving home, I immediately turned on the TV and heard all of the confusing reports about what had happened in Memphis and what was happening in DC and other cities.

The phone rang, and it was my mom calling to check on me.  I assured her that I was safe, but you know moms: saying so just wasn’t enough.  I told her that I would remain in my apartment and under no circumstances would I venture out.  Being mom, she asked if there was enough food in the apartment.  I told her yes.  I just didn’t tell her that it was Vienna sausages, crackers, noodles, Cheerios and beer (18 was the drinking age back then); my roommate and I could last three or four days at least!

At some point Mayor-Commissioner Walter Washington (DC didn’t have an elected mayor at that point) declared a curfew, and then we learned that the University had been closed.  This was a concern because, back in March, we had missed a week of school when students took over Howard University and demanded reforms and the resignation of our president, James Nabrit. (See “Eyes on the Prize, Episode 11.  Look who appears at 26:30.)

Note also that Easter was April 14th, and we usually had Spring Break then, so would we graduate in June after being out of school so much?  We didn’t know for sure at that time, but they ended up crafting a 2nd semester plan to make up some of the missing days.  As we watched what was happening all over the country, graduation quickly became a secondary concern as we wondered about the future of the United States of America!  Seeing so many cities on fire and seeing the rioting was sobering for sure, but asking how we would fix the frustration and despair behind it all was the unanswered question.

We have seen much progress in the 44 years since Dr. King’s assassination, but every day we see the reminders about how much further we need to go to realize “The Dream.”  Forty-four years from today, where will we as a nation be?

What Was That? No Way, It Couldn't Have Been An Earthquake!

Everyone I spoke with yesterday felt the tremors but immediately dismissed the notion they had experienced an earthquake. A friend thought the guy with the leaf blower outside her condominium had something to do with the tremors. How? I don’t know. Another person blamed it on his daughter, thinking she was “shaking the car” on their way home from Raleigh.

Are we really this clueless? It’s no wonder the jokes are going viral especially from the West Coast folks. I can’t blame them. And it seems to me we may just get a committee out of this! This powerful earthquake, a first in 67 years according to the Associated Press, will probably prompt the politicians in Washington, D.C., where the tremors were also felt, to create one. While they are at it, they should form a welcoming committee for Irene.

Jokes aside, this is an amazing teachable opportunity for your children. To learn more about the earthquake this past Tuesday and earthquakes in general, encourage your children to visit the website for the United States Geological Survey at And seize this opportunity to explain how the tremors originated from the epicenter near Richmond, and how to be prepared for the next earthquake.

Molly Broad on Lessons from Mom

What lessons did you learn from your mother that have helped you in your business or career?

As part of our Lessons from Mom series, I’d like to share an excerpt from a Business Class interview with Molly Broad, during which she answered that same question. 

Molly Broad served as President of the University of North Carolina from 1997-2006, a position since held by Erskine Bowles and now Thomas Ross.  She was the first woman to hold that position and is the first woman to hold her current one as President of the American Council on Education.   She still has a home in Chapel Hill and commutes to work in Washington, D.C.

So – what lessons did she learn from her mother?  In the interview, Molly described her mother, who had four children during a five year time span, as nurturing, fair-minded, calm, composed and confident – no matter how many activities or challenges she was juggling.

Molly said:

Click on the button below to hear an excerpt from the interview (2 minutes)

Wonderful lessons passed from mother to daughter and now to us…valuable lessons for parenting, for teaching, for doing business and living life.

What about you?  What lessons did you learn from your Mom that have helped in your business or career?  Comment below or send an email to