In NFL CHARACTERS UNITE, Ward travels to Clairton, PA, a small economically depressed mill town just outside of Pittsburgh to meet Carlton Dennis, a high school junior who is currently experiencing the same discriminations as Ward did growing up.
Originally from Trinidad, Carlton has spent much of his life moving around the U.S. While his family tries to hold on his Trinidadian culture, Carlton often finds it difficult for his peers to relate to his family’s history. Much like Ward, who felt an outsider on his first trip to Korea, Carlton feels just as out of place with his family in Trinidad as he does in Pittsburgh.
Recently, Carlton and twenty of his classmates became members of the Hear Me Project, a nonprofit based organization out of Carnegie Mellon’s Create Lab, which works with local schools to break down the old saying that “kids should be seen and not heard.” The Hear Me Project’’ goal is to find creative ways to give kids a voice to express their feelings about issues like hate and discrimination. While Ward found a way to fit in by playing sports, Carlton has found his voice by rapping. In this documentary, Ward and Carlton lead the Hear Me kids to write an anti-discrimination rap that they can turn into a school anthem and perform at a school pep rally.
Hines Ward,Pittsburgh Steelers
For most of Hines Ward’s childhood, he struggled to find the balance between fitting in at his school, while still maintaining both his African American and Korean cultural identities. While he was proud of his Korean heritage and wanted to embrace it, he found it was often a source of ridicule from his classmates that didn’t understand his immigrant roots.