From Humble Dallas Roots, CNN's Roland Martin Climbs Alongside Barack Obama

From Dallas Weekly to the White House? Could happen.

From humble beginnings, he has risen. In a white man’s world, he has conquered.

Not this guy. This guy.

Oh, I guess Barack Obama has done pretty well for himself, too. First black President. Prompting optimism in America throughout the world. Moving all races to tearfully embrace on an unprecedented night in Chicago's Grant Park. Plus, being named one of Sportatorium’s Top 10 Most Athletic Presidents in U.S. History carries a certain cache, eh?

But I’m equally amazed at the evolution of Roland Martin.

As I watched the joyful tears flow from Martin’s eyes last night on CNN, his modest Dallas roots gave me even a little more perspective on one of our country’s most historic evenings.

I met Martin back in ’94. I was the new Mavericks beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He was a stranger in a snappy suit. The exchange, if I remember correctly, went something like this:

Him: Excuse me.

Me: Nice suit.

After Martin nudged past me and into a media circle jerk with head coach Dick Motta, I asked a Mavs’ staffer who the heck he was. Said the staffer, rolling his eyes, “He’s nobody. Who thinks he’s somebody.”

Turns out, Martin was a Texas A&M grad making ends meet and paying his considerable sartorial budget with cameo radio gigs on K104 and KRLD and as the managing editor of Dallas Weekly. He was, at the time, working on a feature on Roy Tarpley.

Martin was always polite, always quick to compliment a story I’d written. And I, regrettably, was always quick to blow him off. We were friendly, but never remotely friends. To me, he was an over-dressed carnival barker with a crappier press-row seat than me. All style, no substance, little future.

And just look at him now.

Martin, who now owns houses in Chicago and Dallas, is not only one of CNN’s go-to political analysts, he’s so chummy with Obama there are some who wouldn’t be shocked if he got a job in the new White House. He’s written books and won awards and admittedly lapped my career about 100 times.

Good for Roland Martin, I say. Today is the day to appreciate improbable, epic journeys. – Richie Whitt


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