Notable pan-Afrikan psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson‘s recent visit to The Breakfast Club yielded one of his signature unfiltered opinions when the discussion turned to the controversial topic of Deion Sanders‘ recent decision to stop coaching football at a historically Black university (HBCU) and work in the same capacity at a predominately white college.
Johnson held no punches in offering his summation of the situation and said Sanders leaving Jackson State University in Mississippi for a job at the University of Colorado is “bigger than football.”
“Deion Sanders used, abused and exploited HBCU Jackson State just to be given an opportunity to show predominately white institutions that he could coach,” Johnson told hosts Charlamagne Tha God and DJ Envy in a previously recorded episode that was released Friday morning.
Johnson added that he is “so personally disappointed in Deion” because he said he thought Sanders decided to coach at Jackson State “for a movement and not for money.”
Saying Sanders left Jackson State too soon, Johnson said he envisioned a scenario where Jackson State’s now-former head coach would attract other football legends to do the same as a collective means to confront what he described as an existential crisis for Black colleges.
“This was bigger than football, this was about the survival of the HBCU,” Johnson said.
Calling Sanders’ decision to leave Jackson State “an unmanly move,” Johnson suggested there was unfinished business at Jackson State and vis a vis all historically Black colleges and universities.
“That one man could have been a catalyst for a movement that would have revolutionized the survival of HBCUs,” Johnson stated before taking it a step further and likening Sanders to key figures in the slavery abolition movement.
“The abolition wasn’t just about Frederick Douglass, but if Frederick Douglass would have pulled out, he would have hurt it. The underground railroad wasn’t just about Harriet Tubman, but if she would have pulled out, it would have failed,” Johnson said. “For [Sanders] to pull out of Jackson State the way that he did before making sure the HBCU system survived, to me, was selfish. He chose money over the movement.”
Johnson added to Charlamagne: “[Sanders] had a chance to help and he hurt and y’all wanna condone that because you Black celebrities are not committed to the best interest of Black people.”
Citing the low enrollment of Black students at the University of Colorado, Johnson argued that Sanders’ new position was not “a step up” from coaching at Jackson State.
“The critical importance of the HBCU is greater than it’s ever been,” Johnson concluded. “So for Deion to pull this right now makes it even worse because you’re leaving an HBCU system when you had a chance to save it.”
Johnson implored listeners: “Stop trying to exempt Black celebrities from accountability to the race.”
Using his preferred loaded language that’s dripping with slavery imagery for people he describes as race traitors, Johnson recommended “50,000 lashes for Deion.”
Watch the episode below.
There is seemingly a consensus among college sports experts that after two consecutive Southwest Athletic Conference championships and an undefeated season this year, Sanders had done all he could for Jackson State’s football program. However, a social media chorus from people identifying themselves as HBCU students and alumni have taken a similar stance to Johnson’s.
During an interview on 60 Minutes earlier this year, Sanders was clear that he “has to entertain” any offers from so-called Power 5 schools that make up the most competitive college football programs.
Sanders also said during that same interview that “God called” him to Jackson State.
“I’m going to change lives. Change the perspective of HBCU football. Do what’s right by these kids,” Sanders vowed.