In July 2017, this column introduced many of you to Mr. Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, the preeminent driver of Formula One race cars in the world.
In it we said, “He (Hamilton) is a three-time world champion, the holder of more race victories than any other driver in the history of Formula 1 (57), the holder of records for the all-time most career points (2,423), the most wins at different racing circuits (24) and the second-m Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton most all time pole positions (67). Hamilton is also the only Formula 1 driver who has won at least one Grand Prix in every season in which he has competed, and his 57 Grand Prix victories is second all-time behind only Michael Schumacher (91), the sport’s only seven-time world champion.”
Well, recently driving for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team, Mr. Hamilton won his fourth world driving title. This achievement makes him only the fifth man in the world to ever win four or more Formula 1 World Championships (behind Germany’s Michael Schumacher’s 7, and Argentina’s Juan Fangio’s 5), makes him the most successful Formula 1 driver in Britain’s history (Sir Jackie Stewart won 3), and is probably the world’s best known racing vegan. Significantly, no other Black man in the world has ever won even one Formula 1 race, but with Hamilton’s lead there will surely be more coming.
Like Meghan Markle and Barack Obama, Hamilton had White and Black parents. Both of Hamilton’s parents emigrated to England in the 1950’s from the island of Grenada and eventually became British citizens. Though many in today’s Hollywood have decided that marketing the achievements of mixed race children may be the key towards ending racism in our lifetime, the mixed genes may have had little to do with the focused talent and persistence of Mr. Hamilton. He says he learned most of that from the example his father set for him. He also lived with both his birth mother until he was two, and later with another blonde Brit as his father remarried. He took a famous picture in China hugging both women after winning another Grand Prix. In any case, currently, he stands alone in the greatness he has achieved, and he regularly touts both sets of parents for his life and upbringing, with his father serving as Lewis’ professional manager until 2010.
Whether it will make any difference to him or not, in all likelihood, he will be knighted soon by the Queen of England, and thus become Sir Hamilton. He will join an illustrious and very small group of Blacks so honored, including Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana, Dawda Jawara of the Gambia, Quett Masire of Botswana, Mohammed Mo Farah, a Brit born in Ethiopia and England’s most famous long distance runner, and David Adjaye, the Ghanaian-born architect who famously structured the African American Museum in Washington, D.C.
And the beat goes on.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.