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October 5th, 2010
02:04 PM ET

MISSION POSSIBLE: Teaching Black Kids To Swim

Marcellus Wiley is a former NFL player...a defensive end for the Bills, Chargers, Cowboys, and Jaguars.  He played TEN seasons!  Plus he's an Ivy Leaguer who graduated from Columbia University in '97.  But despite his athletic prowess, he never learned to swim.  And he's not alone.  Nearly 70% of all black children can't swim.  So now he's tackling the water with a program called the Distance Swim Challenge.

To read up on the swim event, click here.

You can also check out Marcellus Wiley's company by clicking here.

Filed under: Ali Velshi • Anchors • Mission Possible
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Kent Boone

    Nice piece on swimming by Ali...earlier this summer I was about to do a blog on african american and latino's swimming...There are lots of folks of every ethic background especially black and whites that don't the facts and it's like a shock to them once they find out. 60% of blacks and latino's cannot swim.

    To me it's really sad because when african american's go to the doctor's most doctor's do not tell us to go swimming and explain the medical benefits of swimming all due to the fact of them knowing that blacks cannot swim.

    African american's can reap the benefits of swimming not only for exercising, but medical benefits also. African american's are known to have a higher rate of blood pressure rhan their white counterparts, and diabetes. Swimming lowers blood pressure, and is a boon for diabetes. It also gives oxygen to your heart and muscles, and is great your cardiovascular system.

    In my opinion I think lots of blacks have been brainwashed and most don't even know these facts, some white folks don't even know these facts either:

    Before the civil war 80% of blacks could swim and only 20% of whites could swim. Now, nearly 60% of blacks cannot swim more than double the percentage of white children.

    Historical and socioeconomic factors, coupled with cultural fears and the narrow appeal of swimming among blacks as a choice sport has lead to the distressing figures.

    African people like many others living along the equator always swam. Water was intrinsic to the African's culture. Mother's would give birth near the water and acclimate their children to it.

    European said Africans could swim like animals. Africans always swam. During slavery swimming was banned for fear of slaves swimming back to freedom. During the 20th century public beaches and pools were off limits for blacks.

    October 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  2. toni

    i didn't learn how to swim until i was about 13 and most African Americans dont know how to swim i just think that is circumstances and other issues take over first

    October 5, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  3. kimmer72

    What an incredible idea for a program and what an awesome and selfless thing that Wiley is doing. He WILL save some lives. AMAZING. Thank you for what you are doing to help children.

    October 6, 2010 at 7:59 am |