PITTSFIELD, Mass. - Volunteers helped unload 40,000 pounds of donated food Thursday at the Christian Center in Pittsfield. About 10,000 pounds is going to other Berkshire County food pantries.
What You Need To Know
- The Christian Center in Pittsfield, MA received 40,000 pound food donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
- 10,000 pounds will go to other food pantries in Berkshire County
- Black 14 member Tony Gibson worked with the Christian Center and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
- The Black 14 is a group of former University of Wyoming football players who in 1969 were dismissed from the team for requesting to participate in a peaceful protest planned by the Black Students' Alliance during an upcoming game against Brigham Young University
Tony Gibson, who helped coordinate the donation, said there’s some history as to how it came to be.
“The story goes back 54 years," Gibson said. "Sometimes it's so emotional to talk about, especially if you see what's happening here today, what good has come out of it.”
Gibson is a member of Black 14, a group of former University of Wyoming football players who, in 1969, wanted to speak out against the policies of the Mormon church towards African-Americans and the racism they experienced while playing against Brigham Young University.
“How we wanted to show how we felt was to wear black armbands in the game against BYU," Gibson said. "And we went to our coach to ask permission to wear black armbands. He immediately dismissed us from the team, very vulgarly, and he spoke to us like we weren't even normal people.”
Gibson and 13 of his teammates risked their college education and some even their professional football playing careers. Now, Black 14 works with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, BYU, the University of Wyoming and other partners to make a positive impact.
“We corrected it by making a decision that the food disparities in this country are terrible, we should do something about it," Gibson said. "So, this is what we chose to do to, give back to our communities in the manner of helping the people that are struggling.”
“We're a global church and want to help our communities," Zana Hatch said. "And so, we combined with Tony Gibson from the Black 14 and they had an agreement with the church to bring food to different areas throughout the United States and Pittsfield was one of the places they chose.”
Gibson chose Pittsfield’s Christian Center because he was raised and still lives in the area. He and organizer Zana Hatch said the donation will help local families.
“It means so much to us that we know that we're making a difference to help people in need,” Hatch said.
“What it has really done is taken a terrible situation, a horrible situation, made a good one out of a bad one," Gibson said. "And that's why I think they are all of 14 are proud of where we're here. We're happy to do it and we're glad we can do it.”