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From our archives: College football and racial equality

What we thought: 25 years ago

Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
Dan Heusinkveld A Morrison resident, Heusinkveld served as Whiteside County clerk from 1970 until 2005. A Gazette editorial on Jan. 5, 1989, praised Heusinkveld for his efforts to make voting "less of a chore." (2002 SVM file photo)
Caption
Major Harris A record-setting quarterback for West Virginia University during the late 1980s, Harris was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. A Gazette editorial on Jan. 3, 1989, pointed to the higher number of black quarterbacks as a sign of progress toward racial equality.

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials and articles from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following editorials appeared in the Gazette on Jan. 3, 5, and 6, 1989.

A signal step

It had to be heartening for those clear-thinking people who bemoan what can be perceived as the lack of progress or slow pace in attaining our goal of racial equality and justice in the United States of America to have watched the many college bowl games over the long holiday weekend.

Maybe, as we head into the new year, we have progressed farther than some of us had thought.

What they saw was an abundance of black men, gifted athletes, leading their teams as the signal-calling quarterback – some of those teams, it should be noted, representing schools that not all that long ago would not even let young men of color into the school at all.

The presence of a black young man in such a position at one particular school struck a chord for us. His name is Major Harris, and he is the quarterback for the West Virginia Mountaineers, which fell short of its Cinderella objective of becoming the mythical college champion when it lost to Notre Dame.

But, no matter. Not when you consider that this school represents a state whose senior United States senator, Robert Byrd, the retiring majority leader of the Senate, was at one time a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

That should tell us something. – Jan. 3, 1989

When in doubt, please don’t call

Lessons frequently can be learned from any out-of-the-ordinary occurrence. Something that catches us off-guard. Something, for instance, like a power outage. Like the ones that seem to be shocking us these days.

The latest, of course, occurred Wednesday afternoon when much of Rock Falls and some parts of Sterling were darkened.

In such cases, of course, it is understandable that people get frustrated. And, naturally, their first inclination is to call the authorities – i.e., police or fire officials.

But that, we suggest, might not be such a good idea.

In the first place, during a power outage, these public servants often are as much in the dark as are the residents of the affected area. They just do not have the kind of information callers want – beyond the already-known fact of the outage itself.

The fire department, explained Rock Falls Fire Lt. Tim Lawrence in our Thursday story, has one emergency line and one backup line – which provide enough emergency coverage under normal circumstances. However, when both lines are being used by people who want to know when the electricity is coming back on, the person with a real emergency is at risk.

Sure, a person who needs electricity for his or her routine, such as getting ready for work, may consider it an emergency. But so does the person whose respirator has failed, or the parent whose baby’s apnea monitor is no longer working.

The lesson, then, should be clear.

Any questions? – Jan. 6, 1989

Make voting

less of a chore

Whiteside County Clerk Dan Heusinkveld is doing what he can to make it easier for many – specifically, the elderly and the handicapped – to register and vote.

For example, as detailed in our Tuesday front-page story, voter registration facilities have been made more accessible to the handicapped, and deputy voter registrars now are permitted to come to the homes of voters who are unable to go to a registrar.

The aim of all this, of course, is to get more participation in the electoral process right from where it starts: at registration time.

And to make it less of a chore.

Good for Mr. Heusinkveld.

This whole subject of registration is not unique to Whiteside County; indeed, it is expected to get renewed attention in the time between now and the next general election year of 1992. As well it should.

One avenue that is expected to be pursued relates specifically to the registration procedure: namely, same-day registration – that is, citizens being able to register and vote on the same day.

That sounds like a reasonable proposition to us.

We must do everything we can to increase participation in the electoral process – as Mr. Heusinkveld is trying to do right here in Whiteside County. – Jan. 5, 1989

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