Bears' Sam Acho speaks on racial issues at Willow Creek.
Byline: Steve Zalusky szalusky@@dailyherald.com
Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho and his boss are tackling the racial issues confronting Chicago and the surrounding area.
Acho appeared Sunday at Willow Creek Community Church during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and spoke about how he has teamed up with Bears Chairman George McCaskey to examine firsthand some hard life truths.
In an interview with Teaching Pastor Steve Carter, Acho explained how he and McCaskey have been learning with and from each other.
The two went on a ride-along with Chicago police, visited a prison and even attended a hip-hop concert together.
"Experiences are really what change people more than just talking about something. And so we decided to have some experiences together," Acho said.
McCaskey did not appear in person, but Carter played a video interview he conducted with McCaskey and Acho. In the interview, McCaskey said the two grew closer after they had discussed issues surrounding the national anthem. McCaskey said he told Acho, "Let's talk about some of the broader issues. Let's talk to people and face some uncomfortable truths."
On the ride-along with police, McCaskey said, "we weren't in the car for a couple of minutes when there was a shooting. It just seemed so common, not an unusual experience for there to be a shooting.
"Sam and I talked about (how) there is a mistrust in the community of the police. And there are a lot of good police officers trying to do a good job. So how do we build up that trust between the communities?"
The prison visit arose because Acho wanted to gain perspective of what it was like "to be on the other side. You're in prison. You're cast down and perceived as this horrible person. But is that really the life that you live? Is that really what's going on?"
In recounting McCaskey's meeting with the prison warden and the pointed questions he asked, Acho said of McCaskey, "The man behind the man is what impressed me the most."
Acho, who is a leader at Willow Creek's South Lake campus, also spoke about King.
"He means everything to me," Acho said. "If it weren't for the sacrifices that he made, I wouldn't be sitting here right now."