Once a family affair, Lemon-Soape still holds 'Trotters close to heart

By Jayda Evans
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 12, 1996

Robin Lemon-Soape
African American Student Center

When the Harlem Globetrotters bring their 70th anniversary show of hoop-dazzling tricks to Tucson Sunday, they will also bring back many memories for Robin Lemon-Soape, UA's African American Student Programs coordinator.

Lemon-Soape's father, Meadowlark Lemon, played with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1954 to 1982.

As the first professional team to have African American players, the squad made a push to show that African Americans could make the game of basketball exciting, Lemon-Soape said.

"I didn't realize how important my dad's job was when I was young," she said. "As an adult, I realize how much the Globetrotters impacted the world and African Americans. The team would travel overseas before any other team ever traveled overseas.

"I remember Henry Kissinger calling my house before my father left to the Soviet Union," she said. "Their job was to make basketball entertaining and to establish U.S. relations in other countries."

Although Lemon-Soape is not twirling basketballs on her fingertips or throwing buckets of confetti on audiences, she is still, like her father, carrying on the movement for African Americans. She works toward recognizing the accomplishments of students o n campus and organizing programs to promote African American heritage, she said.

"My job at the university is really progressive in the sense that we are one of three universities to establish a center for three ethnic groups," Lemon-Soape said. "In my arena I help the forward movement of African Americans, like he did in his arena."

Although Lemon-Soape is not close to the players on the Globetrotter's team anymore, she said she will always carry a love for their crowd-wowing antics in her heart.

"It's different now. The players are younger and the goal of the 'Trotters is changing. They were playing when whites and blacks were segregated, and now they attract a completely different audience. I think they need to change their mission in order to k eep up with the market.

One change has already been made for the Globetrotters. When they suit up at 6 p.m., they will be playing a new team. The Globetrotters played the Washington Generals for 43 years, then switched to touring with the International All-Stars. Tickets are ava ilable through the Dillard's Box Office, the Tucson Convention Center Box Office, or by calling 1-800-638-4253. All seats are reserved and are priced at $17, $12, $10.50 and $9.