Ravens Devin Duvernay Draws Comparison To Steve Smith Sr.

The Baltimore Ravens have made a concerted effort to add weapons to surround quarterback Lamar Jackson. After adding Marquise Brown last season, the Ravens added another dynamic receiver in former Texas wideout Devin Duvernay.

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta is fired up about adding Duvernay to the team. He says Duvernay is a player that somewhat reminds him of Steve Smith Sr.

“He’s a tough guy. He reminds me of a few guys that we’ve had here in Baltimore, and I’ll reference guys like Anquan [Boldin], Derrick Mason and of course Steve Smith [Sr.] Those guys all had a competitive spirit about them that made them really stand out,” DeCosta said after selecting Duvernay on Friday. “I don’t think Devin is the biggest guy by any stretch, but he’s very tough, very physical, catches the ball really well, and he’s really tough with the football. So, I like those competitive guys who don’t go down, and he kind of has that style to him. He’s almost like a running back with the football.”

Duvernay consistently made catches across the middle of the field. Duvernay’s stocky 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds frame caused would be, tacklers to bounce off him, as he runs for yards after the catch. He has a violent style of play that definitely elicits comparison to Smith.

The comparison is music to Duvernay’s ears. Smith is a player that Duvernay looked up to before getting to the NFL.

“It means a lot. Those were some great players. I grew up watching Steve Smith Sr. I loved his game. He’s somebody I loved to watch and wanted to play like with that chip on his shoulder. It means a lot to get a comparison like that. I just have to keep working and get better. Maybe I can be like him one day,” Duvernay said.

The chip on Duvernay’s shoulder is now enhanced after falling to the fifth round of the 2020 draft. He felt he was one of the best receivers in the draft.

Duvernay’s number proves it. He led the country with 106 receptions for 1,341 yards and nine touchdowns over 13 games.

Ravens head coach Jon Harbaugh was caught celebrating the Duvernay selection on ESPN’s broadcast of the draft.

It’s already clear that Duvernay fits the Ravens from an on the field perspective. After hearing Harbaugh comment about Duvernay after the draft, it looks like he’ll fit their blue-collar approach to football as well.

“I got him on the call and he was all business,” Harbaugh said Saturday during ESPN’s draft broadcast. “He was like ‘c’mon, man let’s go to work. When can I get my playbook?’ I think he feels like he’s got a lot to prove so we like those kinds of guys here and they’re going to compliment us very well.”

Dr. E. Lee Lassiter: The Man Behind The Byline

The son of a sharecropper, Dr. E. Lee Lassiter’s own story could have just as easily filled the pages of the newspapers he once worked for over the course of his 30-year journalism career. The story of how it all started can be traced back to his days when he and his late brother Willis were students at Berry O’Kelly High School in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Berry O’Kelly High School had a strong curriculum,” recalled Dr. Lassiter, who will be 84 in July. “Berry O’Kelly was a private school taken over by the state. To get there, my older brother Willis and I had to walk four miles to catch a “cheese bus,” ride 20 miles, change buses at the elementary/junior high school, and ride the second bus 16 more miles. We made that trip in the morning, and in the afternoon.

The late entrepreneur Harlow Fullwood and Dr. E. Lee Lassiter in an undated photo.

Courtesy Photo

The late entrepreneur Harlow Fullwood and Dr. E. Lee Lassiter in an undated photo.

“Willis and I had to get up at 4 a.m. to catch the first bus. It was fun, but it was hard. Although there was a school that was closer, we thought the walking and bus rides were worth it. Berry O’Kelly was a good school and highly accredited.”

Dr. Lassiter reflected on an experience that sparked his interest in journalism:

“I was in my senior year at Berry O’Kelly” he said. “At the time, some of the schools had a practice of bringing in seniors from colleges to do their internships in teaching. One of those schools was my high school. One day, one of the colleges sent one student too many. They didn’t send her back, but instead stationed her in the library.

“They wanted her to start a newspaper at my high school. She started a paper called The Busy Bee. As a student leader, I became the editor of the paper. At the time, I didn’t even know what journalism was. She taught us about newspapers, the roles they played in society, and how they worked.”

Dr. Lassiter graduated from Berry O’Kelly High School in 1954 as salutatorian of his class. Later that year, he departed the train station in his native North Carolina for the trip to Alabama.. He was headed to Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). He arrived at Tuskegee with no money, the editorial knowledge he received at Berry O’Kelly High School, and a desire to learn.

“My editorial experience with The Busy Bee helped determine my career. When I went to college, I had three possible career tracks. Electrical engineering, commercial illustration, and journalism. Electrical engineering was where the money was. That was my first major when I went to Tuskegee. But I didn’t do well in electrical engineering. I had drawing skills in high school and junior high school. But they didn’t have commercial illustration at Tuskegee. So, I was down to my third choice – journalism,”

The Disabled, Junk Heap Generation, one of the many editorial pieces Dr. Lassiter wrote as a columnist for The News American

Ursula V Battle

The Disabled, Junk Heap Generation, one of the many editorial pieces Dr. Lassiter wrote as a columnist for The News American

He recalled how he “earned” his education. “Tuskegee had a program called the Five-Year Work Study Plan. The plan allowed you to contract to work for the school for five years to earn your four-year degree. But I had to pay $150 dollars out-of-pocket. The rest you paid with the money you earned. I knew that if I got that $150, I could work my way through.

“My father gave Willis and I a plot of land. He said whatever we made off the plot of land belonged to us. We rushed to get tobacco to sell. My brother told me to take his half and go to school. That’s how I got the $150. Once I got to Tuskegee, I didn’t have money to eat. Fortunately, a student from my high school let me use his meal ticket. That’s how I ate. I worked seven-days-a-week, eight-hours-a-day for the school. They paid us in pink vouchers. Those vouchers got us room, board and tuition.”

Noting Tuskegee founder Booker T. Washington, Dr. Lassiter said, “Booker T. Washington’s philosophy was that there was dignity in work, no matter the job. They put that in our head. The work-study students were well respected. The students looked up to us, but we did not have one cent. I was from the country and had a farming background. Tuskegee was the perfect setting. God was in it.”

He graduated from Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1959 with a B.S. degree in Secondary Education. He received an M.S. in Journalism from Boston University in 1963. He would later earn a doctorate from Morgan State University in 1994.

“When I graduated from Boston University, I tried to get a job like everyone else,” said Dr. Lassiter. “But not one white paper would hire a black journalist.”

Coming next week: Part II.

Civil Rights Leaders Urge African Americans To Remain At Home

With the coronavirus death toll passing 50,000 during the last week in April, black leaders in the U.S. have taken to warning their communities of the danger of opening the country back up too soon. The coronavirus has devastated the black community in Detroit and all of the fatalities in Richmond, Va. are African Americans. Though the numbers are showing signs of slowing down black leaders are taking no chances.

On Friday, April 24, 2020, a group of civil rights leaders encouraged African Americans to “stay-at-home” shortly after the Governor of Georgia decided to lift the state’s stay-at-home order. The CDC guidelines outline that if COVID-19 stats remain down for 14 days straight the state can re-open. Many Governors are following those guidelines.

Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, joined a group of black faith and civil rights leaders and the heads of the largest historically black religious denominations to encourage African Americans to “stay at home” until there is evidence that it’s safe to go out.

A letter authored by Rev. Al Sharpton (NAN), Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson (CNBC), Sherrilyn Ifill (NAACP, LDF), Marc Morial (NUL), Derrick Johnson (NAACP), Melanie Campbell (BWR), Kristen Clarke (Lawyers’ Committee) encouraged people to stay at home.

“We, the undersigned, have joined together to state our unequivocal and firm opposition to the premature effort of governors to willfully re-open their states. The actions of these governors, which demonstrate reckless disregard for the health and life of black residents, compel us to speak out and take action to protect ourselves,” the letter began. “We encourage all black churches and businesses to remain closed during this critical period. The denominations and independent churches represented in this statement, which comprise a combined membership of more than 25 million people and more than 30,000 congregations, intend to remain closed and to continue to worship virtually, with the same dedication and love that we brought to the church. The civil rights organizations represented are working tirelessly to protect our communities from injustice and inequality as this country responds to the pandemic.”

Several Republican governors appear to be taking their marching orders from President Donald Trump who is anxious to re-open the country economically while not referencing the over 50,000 dead Americans from COVID-19.

Issues around environmental racism, disparities in health care coverage and treatment and economic considerations are issues African Americans have to confront more than other communities. The group, Black Millennials for Flint, are mobilizing to confront the problem of the continuous lack of clean water in the city after it was revealed that former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder made serious errors during the Flint water crisis.

“On April 25, 2014, a completely dehumanizing decision was made by former Governor Rick Snyder to switch from the Detroit Water System to the Flint River creating one of the most lethal man-made crises in American History. Fast forward to 2020, six years later, not a single individual involved in this act of genocide has been held accountable for the poisoning of an entire city,” the group wrote. “To put this in perspective, or to ‘make it plain’ as our elders say, the kindergartners in Flint that started this 2019-20 academic school year have not lived a single year of life without the threat of unclean drinking water. Their first year of their educational journey has now also been brought to a halt due to COVID-19.”

The Flint water crisis continues along with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke