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No Free Ride by Kweisi Mfume and Ronald Stodghill, II

No Free Ride

Best Seller
No Free Ride by Kweisi Mfume and Ronald Stodghill, II
Paperback $23.00
May 06, 1997 | ISBN 9780345413642

Also available from:

  • May 06, 1997 | ISBN 9780345413642

    Also available from:

Product Details

Author Essay

People I’ve talked to outside of publishing think that it’s a glamorous job, and we get the chance to meet with many celebrities, prominent figures,  and literary lights. That’s not always the case, but I was fortunate enough to be involved in the production of Kweisi Mfume’s NO FREE RIDE. Before doing the book, I hadn’t heard much about Mr. Mfume. After all, he was a congressman from Maryland, and the only thing I knew about Maryland was that it was the home of crabcakes and the  Baltimore Orioles.

As it turns out, Mr. Mfume, besides being a Congressman and eventually being selected to head the NAACP as its Chief Executive Officer, is a huge Orioles fan. In fact, baseball plays a particularly large part in his recollections of his youth. His youth league coach, Mr. Smitty, is a wonderfully drawn character and the kind of man that many young people need in their life–tough, demanding, and generous of time and spirit.

As work on the book progressed, I got the opportunity to speak to Mr. Mfume on several occasions. Invariably our conversations drifted toward the Oriole’s progress toward the playoffs and an eventual showdown with the dreaded Yankees. I suppose that in a lot of ways, the Yankees have represented for generations of baseball fans the same things that Mr. Mfume has battled against in his long career–wealth and privilege. In these jaded times, some may dismiss his rise from a hardscrabble youth to the halls of Congress and beyond as just another one of those inspirational stories.

But the radical transformation Mr. Mfume underwent, his incredible devotion to his mother, and his return to faith in himself and the vision his mother had of his future can’t be easily dismissed nor easily explained. Just as we sometimes wonder how someone from a privileged background can go so wrong, we should celebrate those times when a man swims against the tide of his life circumstances and emerges triumphant.

Isn’t that the kind of story we love to hear about a baseball game? At the risk of being too trite, Mr. Mfume was down to his last strike, and he came through in the clutch. His is a great story and one we should all be glad to hear again and again.

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