Goodman Community Center | #BeTheGoodMSN: Representation Matters &…

#BeTheGoodMSN: Representation Matters & Moves

When Elijah Muhammad visited Goodman last summer, he was moved to tears seeing so many Black kids and staff coming together in community.

April 27, 2022 |
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Elijah Muhammad looks on as LOFT students participate in a Crossfit workout.
Founder of Project Onyx and Crossfit competitor Elijah Muhammad led a group of LOFT students in a Crossfit workout last summer.

Last July, Elijah Muhammad, founder of Project Onyx in Iowa, was in Madison to compete in the National CrossFit Games. Jon Lica, director of community relations, was giving him a tour of Goodman. He’d never been here before and he’d been invited to introduce our afterschool kids to the world of crossfit that afternoon. He was curious about what goes on here.

Jon said it started like a normal tour. “I showed Elijah around both of our buildings. It was fun. And classic Goodman with preschool kids walking down the hall, making happy chatter like only 4-year-olds can.”

Then they walked toward the gym. Kids were shooting baskets. Practicing heelflips and kickflips in the skate park. Climbing in the playground. More happy sounds. But Jon noticed things had shifted. “Elijah got quiet. I felt like he wasn’t listening the same as before. I waited a bit, and then realized he was fighting back tears. So I asked if he was OK.”

“Yeah. There are just so many happy Black kids here. I’m just so happy to be here with these kids,” Elijah told Jon.

“It was a beautiful thing to see so many young Black kids that just seemed so well taken care of and happy. And to see Black staff looking over the activities … that representation is so important.”

Madison 365 interviewed Elijah later that day. It was writing a story about his afternoon doing CrossFit with Goodman kids. He told the online new outlet: “This is a really sweet place here. When I first got to Goodman today, I was overcome with emotions because everything I was seeing — from the diversity in the staff to the diversity in the kids — was incredible.

“It was a beautiful thing to see so many young Black kids that just seemed so well taken care of and happy. And to see Black staff looking over the activities … that representation is so important. When a kid sees someone that looks like him or her, that helps them succeed. Even though you might not think it’s something big, it is.”

Wow. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help us see and appreciate what we have. And to remind us how vital this community center is.

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