When Shawn Harper was a child, all he wanted was to feel like he belonged. Growing up on the south side of Columbus. Harper felt out of place often. In school, he struggled to learn, and at home he struggled without a father figure. That was, until he discovered football.
“My mom really got me into football. My mom wanted me to be around father figures and football had that,” Harper recalled when asked why he gravitated towards the sport. After that fateful day, Harper went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams and the Indianapolis Colts before retiring in 1998.
Despite his retirement, Harper did not slow down, and instead went on to become a motivational speaker advocating for an opportunity.
One message he held on to more than any others, was that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. To Harper, King pushed the same message that he held onto leading him to success; seeing the opportunity through adversity.
On the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Day, Harper came to Lorain County Community College in an attempt to bring King’s message to today’s young adults.
Martin Luther King Day, better known as MLK day, started in 1986 and is celebrated every third Monday of the year henceforth honoring the political figure’s birthday. Today, the holiday is seen as a celebration of black history
and culture as well as an ever continuing push for racial equality.
Spreading the message
Harper’s speech started out with him discussing a little bit of his childhood, before delving into his version of King’s teachings.
When asked why he wanted to spread his message, Harper responded, “unfortunately we can get stuck in adversity and lose the\ opportunity,” but he continued, “people are our greatest investment” and he wants to invest in young students to guide them through the adversity and into the said were quite simple. “I have achieved a measure of winning or sources and I look back and see how many others need an encouraging word, how many others are like I was and I view it as rescuing me.”
Harper explained why he chose to come to LCCC to spread his message. For him, “a college gives me a wonderful opportunity to plant, sow, and invest” his message so that it can continue on through the generations. He stated, “even if my message isn’t heard by the people today, it gives it a chance to be passed on for their children and their children’s children.” For him, “a message is timeless” and Harper said he wants to continue to let that message grow and spread, much like King did.