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Women’s History Month & Thoughts on Courage


Jan. 1, 1970

Dear Fellow Former Players & Friends,

As most of us know, February is Black History Month. Unfortunately, less are aware that March is Women’s History Month, and in my growth, I’ve learned how important it is to honor the women in our lives and the contributions they make to this great nation. If I sound like a politician, and I realize I do, it may be the 26 years living in Washington, D.C. rubbing off on me. But in an election year, I think it’s necessary to call attention to some of the women who have helped shape our country through the Revolutionary War, Civil War and Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Living a fearless life is not about being better than the next person. Sometimes we are afraid of the dangers and disappointments life serves up. Fearlessness is not overconfidence; on the other hand, it isn’t about being consumed with overcoming your fears either. You just have to be willing to face your fears and do your best with the skills you have. True courage is just having the strength to face the day ahead of you, with its blessings and sorrows. That is living a fearless life.

  • Lydia Darragh risked her life to share secrets with General George Washington.
  • Phillis Wheatley, born a slave and revolutionary wartime poet, wrote about patriotism and the greatness of America while still enslaved after the Revolutionary War.
  • Hannah Arnett challenged her husband and others to continue the fight for the colonists’ independence.
  • The stories of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Harriet Tubman as Civil War era abolitionists are well documented.
  • Rosa Park’s courage during the Civil Rights Movement stirred a nation to act. In ‘the moment’ she was tired and had true courage to face the day’s burden.
  • Viola Luizzo and Penny Patch, both white Americans and not household names, were surely difference makers for millions of Americans for their sacrifice during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress; representing the 12th Congressional District, New York City in 1969. Chisholm also ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972, and was the first woman to win delegates for a Presidential nomination by a major party.

All these things, I’m almost certain, happened because these courageous women faced ‘the moment’. You see courage is the ability to act on one’s beliefs despite danger or condemnation.

Courage is daring. Courage is bold. Courage is “grit.” And courage isn’t concerned with race, income and most importantly, gender. When your moment arises, you need to be ready to face your fear and take action.

Sometimes courage calls us when we least expect its arrival. It is untimely, unfair and unnerving. But what is a life lived without a call to stand up and without a willingness to face fears and be the best you can be?

But don’t take my word for it, just ask one of the countless women in your life who propped you up and made the necessary sacrifices to help you accomplish your goals.

Andre Collins

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Executive Director
Professional Athletes Foundation
NFL Player 1990-1999

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

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