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Michael Favor

Michael Favor

Born in Athens, Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971. Graduated with a degree in Sociology, Social Work, and Coaching.

Born: Athens, GA, United States
Heritage: African American

Michael Favor

Born in Athens, Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971. Graduated with a degree in Sociology, Social Work, and Coaching.

My name’s Michael Favor. I was born in 1966. June 27th, 1966. Now how formal do I have to be? [You don’t have to be] Alright, so class, can we do something real quick before I get started? Let’s shake it out! Come on, shake it out with me! Shake it out! Ahhhhh. Let me hear you say, Ahhhh. Let it all go. Ahhhh. Alright now let’s get started.

I was born in Athens, Georgia. Small town in Georgia where the focus of the town was the University of Georgia. University of Georgia is a college and their mascot is the bulldogs. Let me see your bulldog face. Ooo. Yeah. Let me see that bulldog face. Yeah!

So the Georgia Bulldogs was kinda the mascot of the town and of the community.

Now when I was born, I was born during the civil rights movement. I knew nothing about the civil rights movement other than I would see people marching. I would see people marching periodically when I was growing up and I never quite knew what it was.

At that time, I later found out that it was the Ku Klux Klan, which I’m sure your teacher will explain to you somewhere down the line.

So seeing people march…um, I remember being young and my uncle driving fast down the road and running in the house and someone was chasing him because they were upset with him for a reason.

I just remember that being young and seeing that. Later, I found out as I got older that that was in fact the Ku Klux Klan chasing him and part of that was difference in skin color that people didn’t quite understand, which was a bit confusing back then.

Later moved to Minneapolis. I grew up in Minneapolis and um…I grew up very poor. One of my favorite meals growing up was syrup-sandwiches. Has anyone had a syrup-sandwich? That’s what I’m talking. Yeah, syrup and mayonnaise and sugar sandwiches. Nobody’s done that? Don’t try it. Don’t try this at home. Yeah, it’s not…

So all throughout growing up, I had some wonderful people in my life. And what I had was an incredible, caring mother who centered my brother and I on education and the power of education, the importance of learning, the importance of going to school, the importance of doing something better than the generation that came before you.

Now, all through school, remember I had you guys shake it out. Can we shake it out one more time? Shake out, shake it out! Good.

Now all through school, when I was in elementary, when I was in junior high, when I was in high school, even when I went to college, I always did some form of physical activity. Because for me, before I came to school and sat down and did my schoolwork, I needed to play football outside, I needed to play basketball, I needed to run. Didn’t have much soccer going on back then, but you know what was my favorite sport? Or my favorite activity? Hopscotch.

Anybody here know how to play hopscotch? You the pro? Okay, okay.

So first of all, I want to say this in front of your principal. Principal Ward back there. Let’s give her a big buzz. Bzzzzz, bzzzzz. What I wanna do is I wanna come back and play hopscotch with your class if your teacher will let me. Mr. Shelby, gonna join me? Hopscotch. That was my thing.

Hopscotch and four-square. Who here ever played four-square? Four-square? So maybe we’ll have an activity day with your teacher if you guys do well and hopscotch and a little four-square? Who’s in? Okay, I’m in. You in Mr. Shelby? Principal Ward. When we say Principal Ward, let’s give her another buzz again. Bzzzzz.

So, I used to play those kind of games ‘cause for me, I needed to do something like that because I was always…I needed to focus and I always had to do something physical even to this day. If I go to work, I go work-out and do something physical because it helps me settle in my day. Kinda like I asked you guys to shake it out.

From that I got a lot of mentors in my life. I got to meet people like a guy I hold near and dear. His name’s Bezel Bailey. And what he did as a mentor for me was I was kinda headed down the wrong path, got into some problems at school, got kicked outta class.

My mother said to me which changed my life, she had to leave work and she took two buses to come pick me up from school because we didn’t have a car. You know what she said to me? She said, Son, “I’m tired. I can’t keep doing this.” And she said, “You’re embarrassing me and you’re embarrassing yourself.”

From that point on, everything changed for me. I started putting the physical activity and the academic learning together because I wanted to go to college. College was important to me.

So I went to high school at Minneapolis North, I’m a North High graduate. And then I went to college in a place called Fargo, North Dakota.

We have a Dakota here! Yeah.

So I went to college in Fargo, North Dakota. That was a little different coming from north Minneapolis to Fargo, North Dakota. Now while at college, I earned an academic and athletic scholarship, while in college.

My first major was Psychology. My second major was Recreation. My third major was Phy. Ed. My fourth major was Sociology. And social work and coaching. And that kinda stuck with me, that stuck.

So I loved the studies of different cultures and why certain cultures do things differently than others.

So, while in college, I played some football and we won three national championships while I was there. We won three. So that’s something I’m very proud of.

But you know what I’m most proud of? Is everyone in our senior class graduated, but one person. Everyone that played football that year, we all graduated from college. And that was something very important that we competed on the field and we competed off the field for the learning and each other.

After college, I started a job at a place by the name of St. Joseph’s Home for Children. I started working with students, young people, at St. Joe’s Home for Children for a number of years because there were students that we in need, there were young people that needed someone in their lives to be mentors and get them going in the right direction.

After that, or while I was at St. Joe’s, a lady by the name of Carol Johnson called me and asked me to come to St. Louis Park and she wanted to train me as a teacher and as an educator and work me towards being a principal.

So I stayed with her there, did my student-teaching, did the things I was supposed to do and went into becoming a principal at my old high school, excuse me, an assistant principal at my old high school, Minneapolis North.

So while at Minneapolis North, I was there for three years and then I became the principal after three years; I was there a total of six years.

Now I want you to think about this. You know who your principal is? Principal Ward? I want you to think about—or your teacher Ms. Rodriguez—I want you to think about growing up and coming back to Sonnesyn and Ms. Rodriguez is still here and now you’re her boss. What would that be like?

Awesome? Would you be nice to Ms. Rodriguez? Is she a nice teacher? Very cool.

I was now the boss of some of my teachers growing up, which was the strangest thing. And I had this librarian, who when I was at North—I’ll tell you a quick story. Her name’s Hazel Gregory. She passed away a little while ago. I still have her picture in my office. I think of her everywhere I go. She really gave me a first real book to read. Yeah, I was a ninth grader, that’s how long it took. And that book had an impact on me forever. It was the autobiography of Malcolm X.

But she sat me down and she said, “Boy, you need to read this. You are outta control.” I’ll be forever grateful to her for giving me that wisdom.

But when I came back, she was still the librarian and you know what she said to me? ‘Cause now I was her boss. What do you think she said to me? She said, “I don’t care what they say, you’ll never be my boss.”

And you know what I said to her? I said, “Yes, ma’am, you are correct.” That’s how much I respected her. That we had a wonderful relationship where we helped each other grow and that’s what I said to her. Yes, Ma’am.

In 2011, I was inducted into the college football Hall of Fame, which was a surprise to me, but it was pretty cool. I had been inducted into the NDSU one early on, but I never thought I’d be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. So that was a lot of fun. And to do that with my family was something I’ll never forget.

Can I tell you a quick story? Okay. One of the greatest things I feel like I’ve done in life was to simply make my mother proud. Whatever you decide to do, I want you to think about what would your mother or your father think about what you’re doing right now?

And to walk into the College Football Hall of Fame…[chokes up]…the day I was there was pretty cool, pretty cool.

But you know what she’s most proud of? That I still work with young people. I used to be the principal at Cooper High School. Do you guys know where Cooper is? I used to be the principal at Cooper High School and to wake up every day and to support a teacher like Ms. Rodriguez and the work that she does makes my mother the most proud. And that’s important, too.

So now do you know what I do? I work with the district office, I supervise Principals—not Principal Ward because she told me what that media specialist told me. What’d that media specialist tell me? You’re not my boss. That’s what Principal Ward tells me all the time. You’re not my boss.

So that’s kinda what I do now. I work with principals and I support teachers. Okay! Who wants to play hopscotch with me? That’s what I want to do! Or four-square. You in?