Black History Month Stories: Manny Iloba

Feb. 22, 2021 by WebMaster

Manny IlobaIn observance of Black History Month, Concordia University Texas has gathered stories from faculty and staff about the work they are doing in the CTX community and beyond.

Kelvin "Manny" Iloba is the assistant coach for the Concordia men's soccer team and athletics sponsorship coordinator.

Black History Month represents an opportunity to celebrate the richness of our values, culture and heritage. It is a month that honors the challenges faced by so many African Americans over the years. I sometimes wonder what life would be like without the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali. These heroes immediately come to mind as the pioneers of change in our society today. In all honesty, I believe Black History Month ought to be recognized beyond the month of February. The integrity and compassion shown by our heroes should encourage us to embrace Black History Month in its entirety. This period should be one of understanding, in particular, having a better perspective of how far we have come. It is a time to stand up and be brave. There is still so much work to be done as we continue to fight for our rights and, most importantly, equality. 

Being a coach, the role of African American Athletes over the last century has been amazing. From speaking on racial injustices to performing with grace in their various sports, Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Tiger Woods and LeBron James represent a handful of athletes who, in one way or another, have left their mark on their respective sports. These athletes embody the spirit of what our culture and values are all about — overcoming adversity. These athletes have been a huge part of why I love what I do every day. We all have a duty to be great in one way or the other. We must strive to inspire the next generation to believe they can be whatever they want to be as long as they have a purpose.

Based on what we are currently experiencing in the world today, it is fair to admit that we are still a work in progress. Unfortunately, some people have embraced ignorance. In situations like this, I have learned not to express hate with hate but rather seek a different path. We must learn to have difficult conversations with friends and colleagues because this is the only way we can continue to spread the love and appreciation our forefathers deserved. No matter the circumstances, we must continue to be the agent of change our heroes would have been proud of. Today, I want to challenge everyone to find ways to inspire the next generation. The biggest question we should always ask ourselves is what type of world we want to see our children living in. Our culture and heritage demand we educate not just our kids in the right way but, most importantly, other people in our circle. 

In addition, now more than ever, we must embrace recent and prominent figures of our time. Chadwick Boseman springs to mind because, as an African American, he inspired so many young kids. While playing the role of Black Panther, he was the first high-profile black Marvel superhero and was simply a beacon of light to people all over the world. I would often see children, professors and even babies dressing up as Black Panther for events and showcases; such was his impact. In playing different roles, Chadwick represented a sense of pride and representation that made me proud as an African. Chadwick certainly left his mark before departing the world, and so did prior African American heroes who came before him. It is our duty and responsibility to always celebrate the efforts of our heroes, irrespective of the day, month or year. 

Black History Month is all about celebration, integration, hope, power, recognition and influence. It calls on us to continue to remember our heroes and those who helped pave the way for us to be where we are today. We have so much more work to do, and we must not relent. Things we can do to continue that growth include supporting black-owned businesses, visiting civil rights museums, donating to HBCUs, calling out racism and prejudice in your environment, engaging in healthy conversations about black history and registering to vote. I truly believe we all have a role to play as we continue to come together as a nation. If anything, I have truly learned that Black History Month is a lifestyle and not just recognition.

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