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Flint's Berston Field House was Black Athletes home away from home first

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Mural inside Berston Field House

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Just recently Internationally reknowned artist Lavarne Ross, 70 of Flint and his assistant Al Foster, 54 completed a mural in the famed Berston Field House on North Saginaw Street in the Vehicle City. The "House" is famous for nurturing some of the more famous athletes and entertainers to have broke out of Flint. Two faces on the mural that we all know is Terry Crews and Mark Ingram Jr. Terry Crews, learned his craft there, to go on and become a world famous actor, after playing football at Western Michigan University for the "Broncos." He traded that in for a few years in the National Football League, before going into showbusiness. Then there's Heisman Trophy Winner, Mark Ingram Jr. of the University of Alabama, just recently drafted by the former Superbowl Champion New Orleans, Saints. Ingram winning the Heisman is most notable for two reasons, he's the only one from Flint and 'Bama.' That's right, forget about all of those great coached Bear Bryant teams - he's the first Heisman winner for the school in history. If my research errs in this regard, then at least he's the first from Flint and first black man. That latter distinction is probably the greatest because it took forever for Blacks to even be allowed to play or even attend that university.

The supporting class on the mural is also impressive when you name drop: Glen Rice and Terry Furlow, Morrice Peterson, Justice Thigpen, Mateen Cleaves, and Bruce Bradley. Admittedly some of the portraits likenesses might be debatable to some, but stop and think about it: Ross and Foster started their mural not in the field house, but at the Greater Flint Arts Council, on south Saginaw Street, then upon completion it was transported to the 'Berston.' Thanks to the help of local citizens the Field House received a recent face lift, when volunteers painted the facility to sort of welcome home its own sons.

Berston, used to house a swimming pool and out back the baseball diamond still sees lots of use. There has been inside and outside basketball courts and you can bet 'Mo' Peete' and Glenn Rice and the guys put them to good use in their high school days.

Back in the segregation era, The Field House was the first to allow Blacks to come inside out of the rain and play. So nowadays when Flint athletes show the names 'Flint' and 'Flintstones' off proudly, just between you and me, think also of Berston Field House. One other house engendered and nurtured athletes back then too, the many community schools throughout the city. Like Berston Field House, community schools were open evenings all over the city, to flourish and grow students and some became athletes like the 'Flintstones.' The community school program originated in Flint, but from here it spread across the country and to a few countries around the world. Just think about all this, that means a lot more good things has come from Flint than the many negative headlines we see and read about nowadays.

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