Episode 13: Congressman Burgess Owens on the American Dream
Updated: 3 days ago
Congressman Burgess Owens joins this weeks episode of Breaking Battlegrounds to discuss his first months in Congress, his history growing up in America and his life experiences after playing 10 years in the NFL.
Burgess Owens is a former University of Miami and NFL star who travels the country delivering a message of optimism, hope, and unity. He spent his childhood growing up in the Deep South during a time when the barriers of segregation were being torn down. As the third black American granted a scholarship to play football at the University of Miami, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Chemistry. During his college career, Burgess was named to Who’s Who Among College Students in American Universities and Colleges. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame of Outstanding College Athletes of America and later to the University of Miami’s Hall of Fame and the Orange Bowl Ring of Honor.
Since retiring from the NFL, Burgess has devoted his time to mentoring and improving the lives of our next generation of leaders. He founded Second Chance 4 Youth; a Utah based non-profit organization dedicated to helping troubled an incarcerated youth. Burgess is an outspoken advocate for conservative values and is the Congressman for Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
A Utah based non-profit program dedicated to helping incarcerated youth during their post release phase. The goal of SC4Y is to help these "at risk" youth to begin a new chapter experiencing their American Dream. It is founded on four foundational tenets introduced to the early 1900 Black community by Booker T. Washington. By embracing of these tenets this community, during the 1940’s, 50’s and mid-60’s, led our nation in the growth of its middle class, the commitment of men to marriage, the percentage of entrepreneurs and the percentage of men matriculating from college.
To learn more or to get involved visit: http://secondchance4youth.org/
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Chuck Warren: [00:00:08] Welcome, dear listeners, to breaking battlegrounds, I'm here today. This is Chuck Wawn with my co-host, Kiley Kipper. We're just going to call her Kip today. She is replacing Sam Stone, who has had a miserable red eye back from Boston attending a family anniversary. So we wish Sam well as he naps currently. Today, we are honored to have with us Congressman Burgess Owens from Utah CD4. Hello, Congressman!
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:00:37] Chuck. I'm doing great. Looking forward to chatting with you and Kip for sure.
Chuck Warren: [00:00:40] Thank my friend. So let's start this off right away. One question. What has surprised you first when were a candidate for Congress is there something that happened on that path that surprised you? And now that you're an elected congressman, what has surprised you about being in Congress?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:00:57] You know, that's a good question. And I think because it's all new, I'm just taking it all in. To be honest with you. This is something that up until two years ago, I said I would never ever do was run for Congress or any type of politician. So it's all new to me in a sense. What I will say is I'm excited about being on the field of action at this time versus the sideline. And I would say also some of the things that once I'm there to surprise me is really how different we look at certain basic fundamental policies that I'm now working with the Democrats. We have, for instance, the fifteen dollars per hour that the Democrats are trying to put across our country. And here in Utah, we are we're right to work state number one. And the state is to have a lot of entrepreneurs, 90 percent are small business owners. So we know what it is to, first of all, care about those that their employees and also what it takes to to build a business.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:02:02] And so what the conversation we're having, we're going to this process. They wanted to put a fifty dollar per hour minimum on every state across the country. And my comment to my California friends were, listen, we know we know what we're doing here in Utah. We're very excited about our growth with a fast is going to bounce back. We know what it takes. We don't want what you guys have in California. But in fact, many of your California folks are moving to Utah because of this. And the response to that from one of my friends on the other side of the aisle was, well, if you go ahead and you make it 15 dollars across the country, then people will stay in California. And I mean, what do you say to that? So that's the kind of conversation we're trying to make our way through and try to help the other side of the aisle recognize we need to support our businesses, allow them to come back and grow. You can't do it by by doing things that only work in Washington, D.C.
Chuck Warren: [00:02:59] That's a real interesting point. I mean, there's a book you and I are old enough to remember. Kip is not. But there was a book years ago, men are from Venus, women from Mars or vice versa, you know, talking about how men and women just look at things differently, communicate differently. Yes. And you brought up a very good point, which I don't hear people talk about enough. There is one side in Congress, Democrats, that look at the world a completely different way than you and I and other conservatives or even moderates. Look at it. Right. You know, moderates often I'm not sure where I'm interested in what the definition of a moderate is. No one's explained it to me yet, you know. But I think what moderates generally are people who like a certain tone. Right. You got to be trying. I mean, I think that's where a moderate usually is. But we have a group on the other side and we're both polar opposites in how we view the world. I think the covid was a perfect example. We had one side that realized there some chances people have to take the other side and their followers who said, I need 100 percent guaranteed I'm going to live. Yeah. And I mean, so how do you work around that in Congress and try to get things actually done that benefit society?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:04:10] Well, to that point, I think covid has been a blessing in one way, obviously, that a lot of stuff was going through. But there's a contrast. We now see that I think the nation would never have really seen before. And I wonder kind of when I see this and when we say that my Democratic friends and liberal friends, because they are good people on both sides of the aisle, because they care about our country, they want the best for our country. What we're seeing, though, is something that's totally different than what we the people want. There is another side of this. This conversation is Marxism and socialism. And I think it's time to really take time to understand what is real. That is, it's been real for forever is the polar opposite of what we believe in this country of God, country, family, respect for women authority. There's another side of this process that destroys it's all about chaos. And what would I recognize about Marxism is that they love to hide behind good hearts. So we have. People in the Democratic Party, the far, far left that does not care about our country but are willing to hide behind good people in Democratic Party, and meanwhile they bring misery to to all of us. So what we're seeing this last year is for the first time, think about this who has ever understood our nation? Ever thought they would come to a point where somebody could tell us, we cannot open our business, we can't go to school and we can't open our church. Never have those kind of freedoms that we ever thought would be at risk. But it has been at risk and it's been a process of aggression that has been coming at us for a long time. I think what's coming out of this last year is the best thing for Americans, which we do better than anybody else is we communicate with the people once we start talking to each other across the aisle and realize we have those, whatever we have in common is will we work toward, then we just win. And I think we're going to come out of this after the next two years as we're seeing this the contrast of dark, divisive, angry, hateful, shutting down our economy. That's what the Democratic Party now offers to American people. And we're not going to go for that. We love the light. We love opportunity. Let the dreams, we'd let's take risk and the American people will automatically drift back in that direction. And we'll see that happen in 2022. I'm very confident about that.
Kiley Kipper: [00:06:27] Congressman, this is Kip. And I have a just a question to play off of that. How has the communication between the Democrat House leadership and the Biden administration been with Republican members of Congress?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:06:39] There's really not been a lot of communication. I think we're all seeing as a nation a divisiveness that we have not experienced before. Now, I think what happens is you now have those that are running the Democratic Party, they're seeing, you know, literally inches away from power. And one thing about the far left power means everything to them. And I'm speaking now from a perspective of a young man who grew up in a community that was very, very successful, even though it's a great community in Tallahassee in the 60s, we still believe in God, country, family respect, women in authority. That was what our dance taught us. We we we understood that process. So with that being said of what we're seeing now is, is the transition that went into my community in which power of the left took over and destroyed the family, destroyed the free market. We're now seeing that in our country. So unfortunately, it's going to come down to we the people. Were going to make a decision on which direction we're going to go. I would say this.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:07:44] The upside is that Americans did something that we just have a tendency of doing the right things at the right time. We flip 15 seats. We kept every single other incumbency. So we have the closest margin ever since the well, since World War Two, which basically means that those who call moderate, those who want to keep their seat on the Democratic side, they're going have to start coming back to the middle. They have to come back to working with those who want our country moving forward, having safety, having business open. If they don't do that, they can lose their positions. And I'll say this about my friends on the side. They do not want to lose their seats. So because of that, we came together, even though we lost the House, the Senate and the presidency. We will have more conversations as we get closer to 2022, because of survival of Democrats who just want to make sure they're around and they have to leave that hard left to get that done.
Chuck Warren: [00:08:43] Congressman, you brought up earlier. You know, I think one problem for politics today is. We're really not viewing people as people anymore, right? And tell us a little bit about your background. You grew up in Tallahassee. I think you went to Florida State. Tell us a little bit about that. Also, like you, when you're done with that, tell us what is the difference today between just the attitude, what you see today with our current cultural versus what was happening in the 60s and 70s and, you know, the civil rights movement, the anti-war protests and what do you see? The same type of anger both times. But first, tell us a little bit about you and your family. Where does the money come from?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:09:23] Ok, Chuck, I appreciate that, because one of the things that I love to talk about is this great generation that came before us that would be very, very disappointed at this point. Be disheartened to see what's happened to this legacy. They left us because I grew up in the 60s, the days of KKK, Jim Crow, segregation, Tallahassee, Florida. My first interactions with white America didn't happen until i was 16 years old when I was integrating to high school.
Chuck Warren: [00:09:51] So 16 years old, 16 years old is the first time you were you were meeting and talking with white people.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:09:57] Exactly. And that it wasn't a very positive experience. I figure out how these how these cultures could come together. And here's my point about our great country. First of all, we are a nation because of our Judeo-Christian values that they do the best, that anyone in the history of mankind, of loving each other means that a person outside in. Not that we've done it perfectly, but we've continued to progress and continue to grow. And the one thing about that time that I was growing up in the Deep South is even though we were not assimilating as a country, not only blacks, but the kinds of Jews that we all had, our separate cultures and communities because we were not assimilating. But here's the one thing we had in common. We loved our country. We believe in meritocracy. We have dance. We came back from World War two and we just loved seeing that flag flown. And we loved, again, the concept of what America is all about. And the other thing is, even though it wasn't perfect and never will be, we had to believe that we follow the tenets that make our country great, that we can we can succeed. And my community was just like the other ones. We did not demand respect or ask for it. We commanded it by winning in meritocracy. And so we were very, very competitive. Matter of fact, the most competitive race in our nation at that time. I would compare it to the way the respect we have for Asian community today, the Nigerian community.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:11:20] We see people who come here and they just work hard and make things happen. That's what we were in the 40s, 50s and 60s. The black community led our country, the growth of middle class and in the case of college, then committed to marriage in a percentage of entrepreneurs and have 40 percent of Icelanders in our communities across our country equate to 50 to 60 percent of black Americans being part of the middle class. And if you can see the fact that the money stayed in that community, the leadership stayed there, the dreams, the commitment, the expectation for our kids state and our community, that's why we had so much success. And that's why I could leave. I can leave Tallahassee, go to University of Miami. I was the third black to get a scholarship there. I left. I wanted to be a marine biologist. Why? Because I was raised in a community that education was everything. And it not only did my parents expect me to see me in that arena, but my expectations. I didn't want to let my community down and didn't want to let my family down and I didn't want to let my race down. That was the way we saw ourselves in those those years. Sadly, we've lost that and we've lost that, not because of white supremacists. We've lost it because of black elitist among us.
Chuck Warren: [00:12:33] Congressman, we're going to take a quick break here. Then I want to get back to that and talk about a little bit about your siblings and do you still want to be a marine biologist when you grow up? So we'll be right back. This is breaking battlegrounds with Kip and Chuck. Thanks a million.
Chuck Warren: [00:13:45] Welcome back to breaking battlegrounds were with the irrepressible Kip and I am Chuck Warren, and today we're with, an honor to have with us today, Congressman Burgess Owens, member of Congress from Utah's congressional district for one of the members of Congress this past cycle that defeated an incumbent Democrat. It was a nail biter. It took, Congressman, how many days it take until they finally declared you the winner?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:14:10] Gosh, it took about two 1/2 weeks.
Chuck Warren: [00:14:12] I remember I kept talking to your staff. What's the news today? And they go, what do you know? I don't know anything. What do you know? So, yeah. So let's go back a little bit more and talk about growing up until I'm actually heading out to Tallahassee later this week for some meetings. But tell people a little bit more about Tallahassee growing up there, about your family, about your mom. And do you still long do you like the ocean still? I mean, that's an interesting decision by a boy in Tallahassee. You say I want to become a marine biologist. So let's talk about a little bit.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:14:42] Well, first of all, I do want to share some thoughts about my parents because they were a remarkable generation. But one of the things that we were taught is that when somebody told us you couldn't, that's when you you really hunker down and they say you prove them wrong. And one of the things that they came out of that was my decision to become a marine biologist coming out of high school is that in those days, this is how far we've come in those days, like we were thought to be very intelligent. And it was something that it was the thought process that we could not accomplish those kind of things. And I remember getting the word from someone that didn't believe I could do this and wanted that it just had to go to Florida State. And and I made a decision that they have will be proven wrong. So even though I decided my third year in North Miami that I didn't want to be a marine biologist anymore, I was determined to get that degree. So I lived in a library to prove they got me wrong. So and that actually, Chuck, is the way that community, my generation saw things. If you told them they could not succeed, they were going to be able to double down and prove you wrong. And I'm just so thankful to have had the experience. That little quick background by my mom and dad. Dad went to World War Two. He volunteered at 19 years old. And he always said to the end of his days that he was one of those proud moments was he volunteered because that changed his life in terms of opportunities later on, if he came back from the war, could not get as opposed to a graduate degree down South Intel and Texas because of Jim Crow laws. I ran across a box of letters after he passed away of rejection letters from colleges across the country, and he was rejected because of his color. And again, that generation looked at it as motivation. And he ended up continue moving forward to he got accepted Ohio State, where he got his Ph.D. in agronomy. He had an older brother that Ph.D. at Ohio State and economics. They both were college professors for 40 years, business owners who traveled the world. Remarkable success stories because, again, it really is not about the color. This what I realized growing up as a family is that I thought the color it's your attitude, it's the work ethic and it's your understanding that if you have four basic things, the education, the family unit, and take some risk in a free market, those four tenets will allow anyone to get the middle class. My race showed how I looked like. So that was a the first my mom was a teacher, junior high school teacher and we travel. We had a chance, someone else before going into the integrated school. We took an entire summer from Tallahassee with five kids with a pop-up tent travelled from Tallahassee to California to Canada, back to North and South Dakota. Dicky Leupp took an entire summer and and we stopped at every national park there was because education, exposure to those kind of things were important to my generation. And I'm so thankful for them opening up our eyes to what's available and what's out there. And I do a critical thinking.
Chuck Warren: [00:17:49] Well, you had to do that day without and without an iPhone. That means you have to talk to each other through the whole summer. I mean, that's that's a remarkable feat.
Speaker2: [00:17:56] How ow about this... going through the desert without air conditioning? I mean, I tell you, old school.
Chuck Warren: [00:18:03] Hey, that that builds true love. And I you know, back then probably too, they had those wood panel, station wagons, which no one knows about anymore. They were so horrible. And they had to be, you know, the bench seats. No one had seat belts. So it was pretty big. How big a role did faith play in your family growing up?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:18:20] How much did what?
Chuck Warren: [00:18:21] Faith or Religion? Did it play a role?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:18:23] You know, faith, faith it was everything to our community and to us individually. And again, I'm thankful to have had that foundation because obviously along the way you had to find your own faith. But it's so nice to grow up in a family that at least has that it's not party. So at least give an idea of where to start looking when your time comes, you have to start looking. And it was very important, and I'm just so thankful again at some point and my young my days when you realize that you really here for a purpose, and that's because you have a family that not only talks about it but shows you, but also shows how the world looks in the real world. I want to share one thing. My dad wants to talk about faith and and the idea of what I understood then was supposed to do. We had in those days, it was integrated bathrooms. You go to service stations. You have a white women only white men only in the black colored. And we would travel from Tallahassee to Texas every summer. That's where my extended family is. And they would always sort of early in the morning. So by the time we got to Texas with the state most of the night. But then I really remember having a time when we went to the service station and mom went into the white with white women's restroom, and these two guys tried to knock down the door and I watched my dad, I must have been maybe 10 years old, watched my dad get out of the car and go deal with both of them. He did what men are supposed to do to protect and provide for for their wives, their family. And it showed me, first of all, what courage looked like from a man's point of view. And as my mom came out when she was done, I'm sure she had pride in him doing what he was supposed to do to stand up for himself. That was the first step of that process. When I got back home, he never brought it up again. But I remember walking past the room, just pausing to walk past the bedroom when Dad was talking to mom about cutting up the card, the credit card for their service, that service chain. And 50 years later, we talked about this experience and I was laughing about it and I said, Dad, did that really happen the way I thought? He said, yeah, not only that it happened, but I never dropped I never bought a drop of gas in a service station chain again. Now, what that showed me was what principal looked like. Not only does he courage my dad at that moment, but I saw principal 50 years later of something he stood by, he kept his word, and though no one ever knew about it. And I believe that I gas chain he never lost, you know, never lost any sleep about him not being from there. But he felt good about himself. And he was able to 50 years later, tell his son, this is how principal looks like. So I just want it just remarkable generation. And it's something that that I feel extremely I have an obligation to make sure that America does not look at my past generations as hopeless and helpless, waiting for another generation and another race to take care of them. We were competing and we need to get back to that with the right with the right policies.
Chuck Warren: [00:21:25] If you were talking to a young college student today explaining your past and they say, well, you deserve reparations, I know you've been opposed to it, why why should they not support that?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:21:40] Well it's demeaning. It's a demeaning way of looking at people. When you see see, first of all, this whole idea was because of our skin color. We've been oppressed. We've been helpless, we've been waiting for people to give us a break. Is a big lie. That's why the history is so important. You know, you look at the lifestyle that generation has just talked about gave many of us we were living a better lifestyle than many whites at that time. I don't know how many other white Americans do in the 1950s had gone to Africa because my dad was doing some research in Africa. Liberia, Africa. So if you look at the success of the black community, along with the the the Asian community, the Italian community.
Chuck Warren: [00:22:27] Congressmen, we're going to quickly take a quick break and I'll be back. Please don't lose that thought. This is breaking battlegrounds will be right back.
Speaker4: [00:22:41] Commercial
Chuck Warren: [00:23:22] Everyone. Welcome back to breaking battlegrounds, we are sans Sam Stone today he missed a connection for a red eye back to the studio. I'm here with our irrepressible Kiley Kipper. We call her Kip. And I am Chuck Warren. And today we are honored to have with us Congressman Burgess Owens from CD4. We were talking before the break about reparations and why Congressman Owens, who lived in a segregated community, did not interact with this first white person until he was 16. Why he's opposed to it, Congressman, continued that line of thought. I'm sorry for that.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:23:58] No, no problem. Right. The idea of reparations only works if you don't know our history. If you if we know a history and was proud of it and we to see success along the way as we see the overcoming of all obstacles. And there's no way we're asking other people to apologize for where we are today. The other part of reparation, it takes the pressure off people today to live up to the potential that they need to have. And what it comes down to, anyone in this country can succeed if they're are willing to work, if they want to not feel sorry for myself, get back up when they fall down, have faith in something bigger than themselves. So they're not selfish and focused on commitment to God, country, family and respect of women in authority. Those are things that anybody can do. If in case you want to go the route of reparations, you'll have to do any of that stuff. Just to have someone pay you for something you never went through, never had any part of it for people who didn't do anything against you. So it is a very divisive concept is again, I cannot speak strong enough. It is done on purpose to divide people, for their color, their race, their gender. And this is an ideology we have to fight up against. So, no, I don't apologize, first of all, for what my parents went through because they succeeded. And I don't apologize to our nation has become better and better. Every single generation has given us the opportunity to live the dreams that we live today.
Kiley Kipper: [00:25:20] Thank you, Congressman. That's great to hear. And I know you played in the NFL for ten seasons and we haven't yet touched on that. But can you talk a little bit more about your experience there and then as well as your post NFL experiences.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:25:35] Well and my experience in the NFL was the American dream. I played a lot of losing teams, but I got to the Raiders when they used to win football games. I don't know how you hoping you might not remember those days if you're young at all. But there was a time when Rangers to win football games. And then I left the NFL to start a business and I left very cocky, very much believing that all I could do had to do was work real hard and do a lot of money at whatever I did. And I succeed. And that's kind of what happens when you get, you know, you go the route of athletics. And I had a humbling experience nine years later when everything I was looking for went under. I lost everything. I moved from my beautiful home on Long Island to a one bedroom basement apartment for a few months with four kids. And this was the training of my youth came through because I was taught that a man does anything he has to do with his eyes and and hard to do to survive, to take care of his family. And so I was for a few months of the chimneysweep during the day and a security guard at night. Very humbling and believe I had long nights wondering how in the world did this happen. But because my training, because of my faith, I knew that this was temporary and I knew how to do this, do what I could work as hard as I could. You know, it would turn around in the next year. I began my career that lasted 25 years as a corporate account executive, initially Motorola, my last one is a national account rep. But this is the message that all of us are going to have tough times. It's how we deal with those times. Do we stay positive do we believe in ourselves, our country, the American way and meritocracy? If we do, we come out of it and go the other way. But think of somebody that thought somebody owes me something. Believe me, you will stay miserable because you're going to be the one the person that's in that situation individually. They have to bring themselves out with the help of others. So that's the way I look at it. And it's with great experience and I'm so glad I went through. It will never go through it again. But it really does give me the contrast about this discussion now.
Chuck Warren: [00:27:34] We have two minutes left in this short little segment here when that happened. You're in this beautiful home in Long Island. The next thing you know, you're in a basement apartment with four kids in your a chimneysweep. You're like for Mary Poppins, right? You're doing this thing here. How long, I mean, when that happens, what are you just angry or how long did it take for you just get humble and just say, you know what, my parents taught me these principles. My faith taught me these principles. I'm pulling up my chinstrap. And I'm going to make the most of this and get out of this. What was the process for you?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:28:07] The process is, first of all, accepting responsibility, knowing that you made mistakes. But this kind of gives you a chance to start it up again. I'm glad that we didn't have social media. I'm glad we didn't have cell phones. No one knew about it, my dad didn't know about until after I had come out of it, but it's all about the attitude. This country gives you a second chance. That's what's so good about America. And I knew back then and I can see that anybody else is looking at. Listen to this conversation. Yes, I was NFL player, but after that I was a chimney sweep. If I can do it, you can do it. That most powerful man was anybody in America to give to another.
Chuck Warren: [00:28:45] We have 30 seconds left. How'd you like being a chimney sweep? About how long did you do that?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:28:50] About four months. But it was, it's humbling to have somebody come out and recognize me as a former football player, clean cleaning this chimney sweep. It was a humbling.
Chuck Warren: [00:28:58] Yeah. Can you imagine that being on social media today? Oh, my God.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:29:02] Oh, forget it.
Chuck Warren: [00:29:03] Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. This is breaking battlegrounds with Congressman, Burgess Owens and the irrepressible Kiley Kipper. We will be back with you after this short commercial break to pay the bills. Thanks gang.
Speaker4: [00:29:19] Commercial
Chuck Warren: [00:29:37] Welcome back to breaking battlegrounds, I'm Chuck Warren with Kiley Kipper, and today we are honored to have with this Congressman Burgess Owen, also a two time Super Bowl champion. Um, Burgess, question for you. You know, 80 percent of the voters, a New York Times did a survey a couple of years ago that 80 percent of voters don't really follow politics. Right. And and you go and you read two thirds of people who see a newspaper article only read the headline. Yeah, OK. What is something you wish these voters would know? Because I don't think they're all left. I don't think they're all woak. I think they're hard working people. They've got family and kids. What do you wish they would know those who don't really follow it and you know, and look, politics could be aggravating. I have a friend that's, dealing with medical conditions. The doctor gave her prescription, one was don't watch cable news. Literally, that was his prescription. But what do you wish these voters would know?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:30:34] Well, I think there was something that Thomas Jefferson said ignorant, free can never be. And as our nation wakes up and engages and educate themselves, we have a much freer nation. At the same time, we have a tendency of living this freedom bubble where we wake up every day to take a look at to think good things have happened. We plan on vacations, retirement, memories of our kids. And every now and then we need to have a shocker. When you have contrast and that's what happened, you know, go back to 9/11, to Pearl Harbor and 2020. And I think that the things have come out of this is that we will be more engaged than we have in the past because we now know so much relies on it. As we go to the pump. You see what used to be 37 dollars to fill this kind of tank now because it's costs 67 dollars, that's something that at that point there is a personal impact when we can't put our kids in school, no matter what side were on, we can't go to church. Our business goes under because we can't run a business. That's when we become engaged with politics, because we realize the policies are driving decisions that impact us individually. And that's that's why I believe we're going to have coming out of this probably the best opportunity for our nation as a whole to see contrast. And we need that at times we need in our lives. I mentioned my experience as a chimney sweep. I have more appreciation for what I'm doing now than ever before because I went through that process. And what's happening now is our country are seeing that we came out of an environment in which for four years, the lowest unemployment of blacks, Hispanics, Asians. You go through the litany of good things that are happening, of energy independence. We're beginning to control the border, which allowed the increase of income for those here in the country. And all of a sudden we're starting to see a difference in that. So, yes, we will have more conversations about policies the politicians and their stances now, this coming coming out this year than ever before. And I think it's a good thing for us. So I see as a positive in that regard, the more educated we are, the more we talk, the more we expect the information to come through that's true and real that we're we're going to be as a nation.
Chuck Warren: [00:32:38] What book or books has changed your life? You know, everybody says I have. It's not it's not a favorite book. What is a book that motivated you to change?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:32:47] The first one was They Can Go Rich, announced by Napoleon Hill back in the thirties. They just dealt with the power of the thought process and attitude. And one of the guys that got into reading because I was very, very shy, introverted insecurity, and I didn't want to be there. So I started reading more positive books that allowed me to feel more confident in myself. The one I'm reading now is a really pertinent and timely book to me. It's a naked communist written back in 1958. It is Evergreen. It explains what we're up against, the terms, ideology, ideology that we're fighting against right now that would keep us trying to keep us divided. At the same time, you mentioned Men are from Mars and Girls are from Venus. I rent that one. So, so I think based on where we are sometimes it is based on our self esteem. I read a lot of positive books, magical thinking, big things grow rich, how to win friends and influence people, because I was just so tired of being so shy and then now reading books that deal with the Constitution, them what our country deal with ideology, because I, I need to understand what our enemy is so I can explain and articulate that so we can come out of this and get our country back at the same time. You know, there are times when it's about relationships. It's the Five Love Languages, a great book to help, you know, with your partner, your spouses is all about.
Chuck Warren: [00:34:14] It's also a good one when probably dealing with members of Congress. I mean, there may be some members just frankly, just need a hug, right? I mean, this is the grumpy. They need a hug.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:34:19] Well, and that's going to be up to us as if we the people we need to put people in place that have hope, that are positive. And what we see in Congress is really a kind of reflection of us because they represent us. And I think the next two years because we are a country that leans in, drifts towards a light, we're going to start seeing more Republicans, as a Republican, I think we have hope we would look at opportunity. Look at the bill, the dream to have a business and have your children have choices. I think we're going to have more toward that because we now see what it looks like that to have it. So it's to be a good chance for we, the people, to really paint who we are. And we are people that have always been drifting towards the light.
Kiley Kipper: [00:35:01] Congressmen with so much, facts and non facts, the news is telling us one thing, TV commercials are telling us another, how do you communicate with someone and tell someone that what their fact and what they're saying isn't true? So, for example, the Georgia election law, there's so many things that are being said about it that just aren't true. How do you communicate that with people?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:35:22] Well, we have to, first of all, be patient with those that we're talking with. You know, what made our country so good in the community I grew up in is I was taught in those days you can respectfully agree to disagree. We need to get back to that. That only happens when we have a confidence in ourselves to have to have conversations. So part of part of this is short term. We need to have the confidence and the boldness to be honest and be truthful. And for those who say that black people cannot have the ability to get up and get up and get an I.D. like everybody else, that's pure racism. Do not put down a race this way of saying we don't have the intelligence to go out and do what every other race does, which is to get an I.D. so you can get on a plane, get in the car, go to college, get a savings account. And if those who are not doing that right now, by the way, has been for 20 years I'm hearing this mess, if people don't have ID, help them get one because they're not going to get to the middle class without having that that basic tool to define who you are.
Chuck Warren: [00:36:21] Yeah, I mean, frankly, it's just something, frankly, Republicans conservatives need to say, look, the state will provide you an ID. You can't afford one. I mean, this you're absolutely right. It's just you don't think that way, but you can't really do much in life without a state issued picture I.D. And I know that drives our libertarian friends nuts, but that is just the world we live in. And it's just that way. On a funny note, what is the strangest question you were asked on the campaign trail that you just got it. You're just like, really? So that's what you're coming up with today. What is the strangest question you were asked?
Chuck Warren: [00:36:53] Oh, boy, that's a good question. Oh, my goodness. You know. I guess the strangest was when somebody literally called me a white supremacist and I had to deal with that, I had to kind of explain how do I even start answering this question? So. So and here he is. Here's my message to all of you out there. You know, as humans, we all think we all have the freedom of thinking and our thoughts should never be tied to our skin color. The idea of meritocracy of change should never be tied to our skin color. It's all attitude. It's all upbringing is what we see in ourselves and how big we're willing to dream. If we if we're able to dream big and realize we deserve those dreams, we will overcome any obstacle, any downside, anything negative people talk about us and that's who we've always been about as a nation. And we have to make sure we raised our kids to believe that in themselves. Don't worry about the downside. We all have them, but we come out of a much stronger if we recognize you for our good number one. And it should do much, much bigger, better things to move forward.
Chuck Warren: [00:38:03] Let me ask you this question. So let's say your football career was now in this decade with the you know, I love the minimum NFL. The minimum contract now for a veteran player of seven years is like 1.3 Million dollars. Right? I mean, that's just the minimum if you have seven years playing. But imagine if you played then two time Super Bowl winner starting free safety on the most popular team and most hated team in the nation. It's not the Cowboys. I hate to break it to everybody back then. You would have made substantially more money, would you still had faced the same financial reckoning you had then just because of how you treated it?
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:38:38] What a good question. So, first of all, I'm so thankful that I played on that time because in those days you can make big mistakes. And in history quickly, you have a lot of stuff, too. So it took me nine years to lose everything. Today with the kind of money being people, you can stay pretty, pretty much insulated and elitist, clueless for a lot longer before you lose it all. And at some point you have to you know, I see this way. Life is about being humble, either humble or humbled with Ed in the goal simply is to to to decide to lean and being humble as soon as you can. And I'll tell you what, the greatest thing to have to me was losing that that business, because I had the chance to reflect on everything in my life, recognize that success is not guaranteed, and that if you fall flat, you can truly get back up in the message that you share with other people, that they can do the same thing. So I'm glad I went to that era that we came to standing for the flag. The national anthem was a big thing. I, I would get teary eyed listening to watching that flag flow, and I'm thankful for that time I grew up in so I can be a message messenger for those living today that it doesn't have to be this way my friends. We are much better than we are today and we can we can overcome by recognizing. We can do good things together.
Chuck Warren: [00:39:57] We've got two minutes left with you. If life ends tomorrow and you've had all your successes and you know, you take everything with you, what are two or three lessons or bits of advice you want to make sure that your children, your friends, your neighbors, your constituents know that you know, the experience and hard work will just make life better and more meaningful.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:40:22] I would say the first thing to do is wake up every morning and think, thank the Lord in heaven that you hear as an American that you have an opportunity to grow up with dreams and opportunities to to achieve your goals and put things in perspective. I mentioned before I was raised very simply with with with knowledge of respect for God. Country would love for God, country, family and respect for women authority. If I can say how to how to summarize being a good American, what looks like how to be a happy American, how to be a happy person and leave with a legacy to start off with that level, God, country, family, respect for women authority. And believe me, you do that at the end of the day, life go by so fast. But boy, you look back and say, man, it was a really good trip. He was a nice way to go and have friends around the family that love me, love me, because I did it the right way and have a God. Heaven has blessed me because I did my best to be the best I could be.
Chuck Warren: [00:41:15] Well, my friend, we appreciate you coming on. Take the time for your busy schedule today, and we wish you the best of luck. And we hope that you keep going doing good things and God bless you and your family.
Congressman Burgess Owens: [00:41:28] Thank you Chuck and Kip so much for the opportunity. Let's do it again, my friend. Thanks
Chuck Warren: [00:41:32] Looking forward to it. Thank you very much. Yeah, that was Congressman Burgess Owens who gave us a little extra time today. And I'll tell you, Kip, I was really surprised that the first time he talked to a white person was six years of age. And so I imagine when he hears some moron say you're a white supremacy, must just I mean, I'm sure he almost has flashbacks.
Kiley Kipper: [00:41:58] Absolutely.
Chuck Warren: [00:41:59] That's insane.
Kiley Kipper: [00:42:02] That's not anything that I can even comprehend because how I grew up, I'm 26 years old, that was not even a thing. Like, I didn't experience that.
Chuck Warren: [00:42:10] No. no you didn't. And you know what's funny is the inner cities are the most segregated part of our country now because people based upon neighborhoods, if you really studies have shown if you really want to be in a city, you know, a non-segregated community, go live in the suburbs. So it's really amazing. But, um, yeah, I was an interesting take and I'm glad we had the opportunity to talk about his background. And his parents just seemed to be real pillars of their community, probably the church. We didn't talk enough about that in his family, but I can't imagine driving my kids across the United States without an iPad or iPhone. You know, I'm not a drinker, but, boy, it makes me want to really, you know, take it up there.
Kiley Kipper: [00:42:53] Well, a quick little sunshine moment. Really quick. I want to talk that he Burges Owens is the CEO of A Second Chance for Youth. And I think this comes from his background. And we didn't get a chance to talk about it today. But they are dedicated to helping incarcerated youth during their post release phase. So he has, even after his NFL career, his post NFL experiences, he's still figuring out a way because he knows through his experiences he's able to help these these men and women post their incarceration.
Chuck Warren: [00:43:26] It's very important. So we appreciate everybody being with us today. And we hope you learn something new about Congressman Owens and we are breaking battlegrounds. Do you have any final comments for our listeners before they leave.
Kiley Kipper: [00:43:41] Is great being your co-host today Chuck.
Chuck Warren: [00:43:44] As she says, meekly and humbly here on the high towers of the Patriot in Phoenix, Arizona. This is breaking battlegrounds next week. Are we having, did we contact Debbie Lesko?
Kiley Kipper: [00:43:58] Yep, we contacted her, we will see.
Chuck Warren: [00:43:59] We're in waiting, but we'll be back with you next week. Thank you for joining us today. A breaking battlegrounds. Have a great weekend, folks.