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Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race

Video Conference

Can it ever get better? This is the question Benjamin Watson is asking. In a country aflame with the fallout from the racial divide, is there hope for honest and healing conversation? For finally coming to understand each other on issues that are ultimately about so much more than black and white?

A former NFL tight end for the New Orleans Saints and a widely read and followed commentator on social media, Watson has taken the Internet by storm with his remarkable insights about some of the most sensitive and charged topics of our day. Now, in Under Our Skin, Watson draws from his own life, his family legacy, and his role as a husband and father to sensitively and honestly examine both sides of the race debate and appeal to the power and possibility of faith as a step toward healing.

Prayer with Senate Chaplain Barry Black, introduction by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), QA session moderated by DJ Jordan.

Click to watch the lecture

A first round draft pick and Super Bowl Champion, Benjamin Watson is a true talent and an offensive force in the NFL. While in high school in South Carolina, Benjamin was a standout athlete. His talents afforded him a place on the Duke University football team and later with the University of Georgia. In his senior year, Benjamin was selected as an NCAA preseason All-American and an All-SEC selection at UGA. He was also named the Bulldogs’ offensive captain for the season and was honored as an All-SEC selection by numerous publications after a stellar season, capped off by touchdown receptions in both the SEC Championship game and the Capital One Bowl.

It is no surprise that Benjamin was a first round NFL draft selection. The New England Patriots knew he was a special talent and selected him as the 32nd overall pick. He has been a powerhouse in the NFL ever since. Known for his speed and astounding athletic ability, Benjamin is widely recognized for what is considered “the most amazing play of the entire 2005-2006 NFL season” – a remarkable run to deny a touchdown in a critical playoff game.

After six successful seasons with the Patriots, Benjamin landed with the Cleveland Browns where he continued to be a dominating force, leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. As an NFL veteran, Benjamin has been a key playmaker for teams such as the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and currently, the New Orleans Saints. With 547 receptions and over 6,000 yards in his career, Benjamin has been a model of consistency and talent through his 16 years in the league.

Benjamin’s passion for football mirrors his passion for giving back. Understanding just how blessed he is, Benjamin and his wife Kirsten established their foundation, One More. One More is a non-profit organization dedicated to impacting the lives of those in need by providing enrichment opportunities and promoting education through charitable initiatives and partnerships. Benjamin holds annual events such as The Big BENefit Christmas Toy Giveaway, Thanksgiving Turkey Drop, School Givebacks and much more. Benjamin also partners on numerous events and projects with the International Justice Mission, working to end sex trafficking.

In 2015 & 2017, the NFL recognized Benjamin for his incredible philanthropic efforts by naming him a Walter Payton Man of the Year Finalist. Benjamin also received the prestigious 2017 Bart Starr Award. Off the field accomplishments for Benjamin also include being cast in The American Bible Challenge, participating in the 14 th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Fest, speaking at the Pentagon, Liberty University, SXSW and being named one of CNN’s Most Extraordinary People of 2014.

In 2015 Benjamin wrote several powerful essays on cultural topics; his most notable outlined his thoughts on racial tension in America and became an internet sensation, reaching over 44 million. This Facebook post was the catalyst for Benjamin to write his first book, Under Our Skin, which garnered critical acclaim and eventuallyled to the release of his highly anticipated second literary work, The New Dad’s Playbook.

Benjamin’s uncanny ability to objectively address controversial topics in such an eloquent manner has placed him on major TV networks, such as ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and the Dr. Phil Show to share his opinions. Benjamin has also spoken on current events at schools, churches, and conferences across the country.

Benjamin’s talents on and off the field, coupled with his down-to-earth personality, have paved the path to a very bright future post-NFL. In 2018, Benjamin announced he would be retiring after 15 seasons in the NFL, along with a surprise in-game touchdown celebration announcing that he and his wife are expanding their family, expecting twins in spring of 2019. To only shock the world once more, Benjamin returned to the NFL for one final season. Joining the New England Patriots in 2019, Benjamin was able to give it all he's got and end that chapter of his life knowing he left it all on the field. In 2020, Benjamin announced he is officially retiring from the game of football.

As a leader on tax reform, education and job training, and innovative ideas to reinvest in our nation’s distressed communities, United States Senator Tim Scott brings a unique perspective to the United States Senate. Growing up mired in poverty in a single parent household, Tim says that he is living his mother’s American Dream, and through his Opportunity Agenda works every single day to ensure every American family has the opportunity to succeed.

Senator Scott has served the great state of South Carolina in the U.S. Senate since 2013, and brings with him a mission to positively affect the lives of a billion people with the message of hope and opportunity. Growing up poor in a single-parent household in North Charleston, South Carolina, Tim watched his single mother work 16-hour days as a nurse’s assistant to keep him and his brother afloat.

As a freshman in high school, Tim nearly failed out, flunking four classes. However, the next year, he met his mentor named John Moniz who shared life- changing ideas and the basic principles of business with Tim. Through hard work, education, innovation, and with the discipline his mother gave him, he began the process of turning his life around.

The lessons gleaned from his mentor still guide Tim today: you can think your way out of poverty, and financial independence is a stepping-stone for success. Having a job is a good thing, but creating jobs is a great thing.

An unbridled optimist, Tim believes that despite our current challenges, our nation’s brightest days are ahead of us. During his time in office, he has been a tireless advocate for creating more opportunities for families living paycheck-to- paycheck and helping children who are mired in poverty have access to quality education. He launched his Opportunity Agenda, a legislative package aimed at achieving these goals, as well as the Senate Opportunity Coalition, a group of Senators committed to helping those in need.

Tim also knows that in order for our nation to prosper, we must get our spending and national debt under control. He has sponsored balanced budget amendments throughout his time in Congress, and will continue working to restore fiscal sanity in Washington.

Prior to public service, Tim built a successful small business of his own. He was first elected to Charleston County Council, to the South Carolina State House, and the U.S. House of Representatives. In January 2013, Tim was sworn in as a United States Senator from South Carolina, and was re-elected in January 2017.