From a McKeesport teen playing high school basketball to becoming a professional athlete in the WNBA, an author, a philanthropist, a motivational speaker and an Olympic champion, Swin Cash has a story that is inspiring yet rare.
On May 2, Cash will share the story of her journey when she serves as the keynote speaker at the NAACP Pittsburgh Unit’s 59th Annual Human Rights Dinner at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, Downtown. The theme for the event is “Reenergize, Refocus, Restructure: Save Our Youth.”
“It is very humbling (to be the keynote speaker). It’s funny because I do a lot of speaking engagements across the country and it’s a different feeling when you come back home. I’m looking forward to it,” said Cash. “I’ll be talking about our youth, explaining a little about myself and the journey I’ve had. Also, the social awareness and social conscience we need to have in order to engage our youth and see them continue to be successful for the future.”
Cash, whose real name is Swintayla Cash, was raised in McKeesport, attended the University of Connecticut, where she was an All American, and then went on to play in the WNBA. She began her career with the Detroit Shock, then played for the Seattle Storm and now is currently a leading player of the Chicago Sky team. Along with her career as a professional athlete, Cash recently released her book “Humble Journey More Precious Than Gold” and is actively serving the community through her organizations: Swin Cash Enterprises LLC., Cash Building Blocks and Cash for Kids, a charity that engages youths in academic enrichment opportunities and keeps them active to “keep them in the game and off the streets.”
“Swin Cash is a two time Olympian with a youthful message that needs to be heard,” said Connie Parker, Pittsburgh Branch NAACP president.
Along with Cash, Parker said she will be taking a few moments to speak at the dinner. “I will be taking a moment to make a couple comments that I think the community needs to hear,” she said. “The NAACP is the largest civil rights unit not only in the country, but in the world. We (the Black community) are having terrible times and the only way it will change is if we all come together. We need to get real here and support the NAACP.”
With the NAACP’s long-standing, historic role in the fight for civil rights, Cash said she encourages the organization to continue to work and fight. “Now more than ever it’s important that they have an intricate role in our community, especially with so many of our young people having so many struggles…Having those role models and that voice and that activist spirit is still needed,” she said.
One of those role models Cash is inspired by is historic baseball player Jackie Robinson, who has recently been celebrated through film in the movie “42,” which chronicles his life and career as the first African-American to enter Major League baseball, and who is often credited with opening the door for Blacks into professional sports.
One of the many issues plaguing the Black community is the increasing epidemic of Black on Black violence. According to an opinion piece in the March 26 issue of the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Race and the Gun Debate,” Juan Williams states, “gun related violence and murders are concentrated among Blacks and Latinos in big cities. Murders with guns are the No.1 cause of death for African-American men between the ages of 15 and 34.” He also referenced a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control, which stated that 54 percent of all murders committed, overwhelmingly with guns, are murders of Black people. And that Black people are about 13 percent of the population.
Cash said in order to cure this epidemic of Black on Black violence, we, as a community, need to provide opportunities for our youth and address the gun violence. “It goes back to making sure that not only is your child taken care of, but that you’re being a staple in the community and providing opportunities,” she said.
She added that with many schools cutting activities due to budget cuts, that a lot of kids have too much time on their hands and are filling that void with negative things.
Cash said she is currently filling her time with promoting her book, training for the upcoming WNBA season and working with her charity.
(For more information on Swin Cash, visit www.SwinCash.com. Tickets for the NAACP Human Rights Dinner are available by calling the office, at 412-471-1024.)
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