MLK Jr. Opened Doors For Local Athletes

(January 21, 2013) -- Mexia native Kelvin Beachum just finished his rookie year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's a dream come true for Beachum, who had his sights set on the NFL when he was just in high school.

But the same opportunities weren't always available for guys like Rodrigo Barnes.

"You could be a teacher. Maybe if you could go to college, a teacher and then an athlete," Barnes said.

Barnes started playing football his sophomore year at G.W. Carver in Waco. He later became one of the first ever African-American football players at Rice University.

"We had three African Americans out of the 12 from Waco," said Barnes.

Today, more than 60 percent of NFL players are minorities. Both Barnes and Beachum say it wouldn't be possible without the work done by Martin Luther King Junior.

"African-American athletes all over the world owe it to MLK for breaking bonds and breaking chains," Beachum said.

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