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Ellis talks learning from legacy at Robinson Leadership Lecture Series

Friday, November 15, 2019
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            Wilbert Ellis addresses the crowd Wednesday during his talk at at the fourth annual Edward G. Robinson Leadership Lecture Series.

GRAMBLING — Celebrating the 100th birth year of Eddie G. Robinson, it was only fitting that one of Coach Rob’s best friends served as keynote speaker at the fourth annual Edward G. Robinson Leadership Lecture Series Wednesday in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

And it was another GSU coaching legend — College Baseball Hall of Famer Wilbert Ellis — who delivered the lecture to Grambling students and faculty members.

The Eddie G. Robinson Lecture Series was founded by the Heritage Group to promote and extend Robinson’s legacy. The theme of Wednesday’s lecture was “The Legacy Continues: Achieving Success Beyond the Football Field.”

“I had the opportunity to spend so many years with one of the finest individuals ever — Eddie G. Robinson,” Ellis said. “I spent time with him as a student, and then I spent time with him as a boss when I was a baseball coach. He was a father figure to so many because Eddie Robinson cared about people. He loved his student athletes and he loved Grambling.

“When you say Eddie Robinson, you say Grambling State University, and when you say Grambling State University, you say Eddie Robinson again.”

Ellis pointed out that Robinson did much more than only succeed on the football field.

“He was a drum major for peace, he was a drum major for students, he was a drum major for good community, but most of all he walked alongside kings and queens and could still be Eddie Robinson. He was known as a world-renowned head football coach, but he was much more than only that.”

“Coach was a man of great fortitude, knowledge and political savvy. He helped to charter a course of success for Grambling by taking a simple game called football to bring together men and women from all walks of life toward strengthening Grambling State University and strengthening our nation,” Ellis said.

Persevrance is a key lesson that can be learned from Robinson.

“For 118 years Grambling State University has experienced prosperity as well as strife and great struggle,” Ellis said.

“There have been budget cuts and declining enrollment … but there has also been surplus and enrollment growth.”

Through it all, Grambling State University has stood tall on the shoulders of leaders who have cared about our students, who have attended and graduated from Grambling State University. There have been many leaders at the forefront of the fight for dear ‘Old Grambling’ as the university pushed its way through struggles associated with desegregation, consent decree and declining state appropriations. One of those great leaders is being celebrated today, and his name is Eddie G. Robinson.

Ellis said that while Grambling is also known for its academics, the university’s athletics programs have been a key source of publicity. He then asked the students in attendance why he was telling them about Robinson and why is important that they help preserve Robinson’s legacy at the school.

“The answer is simple — even though many of you were not born when Coach Robinson served this university, you are reaping the benefits of his labors,” Ellis said. “Coach Robinson was one of the pillars that strengthen Grambling State University. He did not do it for himself. He did it for those who would come years later. “

He did not see black or white. He saw America and a great nation. Those hearing me today should understand that whether you are an athlete or not, the legacy of Coach Robinson is a part of your foundation. You must demonstrate that you understand the importance of what you have been given. It’s a part of you — part of your DNA — to be great. You need to know and understand where you come from and how it will affect your future.”

Ellis reminded the student that giving back is a way to pay forward in life,

“It’s important to give back,” Ellis said. “It’s important to support your community and university. Giving back is so important. Respect is earned and not given. Self-esteem comes from personal achievement and is not inherited. Education creates opportunities. It doesn’t guarantee success. That’s found from within. Real success is about accomplishing what others believe to be impossible. I believe you should give back to Grambling State University.

“Hold on to the legacy Coach Rob left for you. It’s your gateway to make a difference. The opportunity is in your hands, but what will you do with it? “

Ellis then asked the students in attendance to visit the Eddie G. Robinson Museum on the GSU campus.

“See and study the life of a great leader,” Ellis said. “Learn from him how to be the best you can be.”