Award offends some, motivates others

Recently, a California Bay area radio station, 106.1 KMEL “The People’s Station,” in collaboration with Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, launched a black history month writing contest.

Contestants had to write an essay about a black leader that was making a difference in their community.

The initial prize was a bucket of chicken from a local black-owned Popeyes franchise. Later, the station changed the award to a Dell Computer, which was still sponsored by the chicken chain.

It may seem a little insensitive to those who don’t love deep-fried chicken.

If I were in the California Bay area, I would have joined the contest.

I congratulate KMEL for developing a crafty idea that encourages people to study the influence of today’s black leaders.

Sometimes, incentives have to be presented to get people to perform tasks they normally would not.

In this case, fried chicken was the initial prize that was offered.

Maybe it would have been less insensitive to some if Subway had sponsored the radio station’s contest. Most black community gatherings that I have been to where actual food was served had fried chicken as a choice.

I’m not aware of how many people decided to participate in the contest, but I’m sure the majority of them learned something about black leaders they would not have otherwise.

Black History Month is supposed to revolve around the best and most memorable points in black history. Our love for fried chicken isn’t exactly our greatest historical fact.

This contest could be interpreted by some as being disgraceful and disrespectful to Black History Month. Although I understand such a viewpoint, I disagree.

Changing the award from a bucket of fried chicken to a Dell computer was a huge change, which intrigued more citizens of California’s Bay area to participate in researching black leaders.

Do you know Andrew Gillum?

Everyone who reads this should know, but that isn’t the case.

Commissioner Andrew D. Gillum, a Florida A&M University alumnus and current Mayor Pro-tempore, became the youngest person ever elected to the Tallahassee City Commission in February 2003.

At the time of the election, Gillum was a student. According to, Ebony magazine’s February 2004 edition featured Gillum as one of “The Fast Track 30 Leaders Who are 30 and Under.”

If 100.7 WBWT-FM The Beat had the same contest, there is a good chance that you would’ve found out about black leaders in our community like Commissioner Gillum.

The contest isn’t hurting Black History Month and its not the least bit insensitive.

It is strengthening the month by pushing those who compete to find out about black leaders and making them aware of black history as it occurs.

Siraaj Sabree is a sophomore newspaper journalism student form Miami. He can be reached at