Jasper Weatherby's grandpa worked with Martin Luther King Jr., his grandmother marched in Selma, now he hears his calling
Jasper Weatherby remembers the conversation.
His brother, Kevin, was about to make a cross-country drive from their father Dicken's home in Vermont to their mother Lucinda's home in Ashland, Ore., for the first time.
Before hitting the road, Dicken sat Kevin down to have an important talk.
He told Kevin to be extremely careful on his drive and instructed him, if he gets pulled over by an officer, to make sure his hands are in full view at all times. He gave him a general idea of which towns to stop in, and said to be careful even when filling up with gas.
It caught Jasper's attention, because he had driven across the country numerous times during his hockey-playing career. He had completed that Oregon-to-Vermont journey himself. But nobody told him these things.
"The only thing my dad ever said to me was 'don't speed,'" said Jasper, a junior center on UND's hockey team.
Jasper knew why things were different, though.
He's white. Kevin is Black.
Although brothers have grown up together since the Weatherbys adopted Kevin 16 years ago, Jasper is keenly aware of prejudices and racial inequities that exist in America, and why things can be different for them.
"Kevin is the friendliest guy you'll ever meet," Jasper said. "He's the nicest guy I know. When I was young, I was oblivious to a lot of stuff, because I never understood why anyone would treat us any different.
"Our dad is such a good dad and cares so much that he thinks about those things. But it's messed up that he has to say that. That hit home for me. I thought, 'How am I going to help this? Am I going to do something more?'"
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May, Weatherby's normally quiet Instagram feed has been filled with posts and stories supporting racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
He participated in a Black Lives Matter march in Grand Forks. He visited Floyd's memorial in Minneapolis to pay his respects. He protested back home in Ashland, Ore. He has tweeted support for the movement and has led discussions among his UND teammates.
Few college hockey players have been as outspoken as Weatherby this summer. And if you know his life story, his family's history, you understand that Weatherby has been raised for this moment, shaped by civil rights fighters that line his family tree.
Weatherby's grandfather, Ralph Temple, fled the Nazis as a 7-year-old Jewish boy growing up in London. In America, he became a civil rights lawyer, who fought Jim Crow in the courtroom, became a member of the NAACP Board of Directors, worked underneath Thurgood Marshall at the Legal Defense Fund and alongside Martin Luther King Jr., on a couple of cases.
Weatherby's grandmother, Ann Macrory, was a pioneering civil rights lawyer, who participated in the famous Selma to Montgomery march, stood in the National Mall watching King give his 'I Have a Dream' speech and fought for things such as housing equality and immigrant rights.
His mother, Lucinda, grew up in Washington, D.C., protested apartheid at the South African embassy and successfully lobbied her high school to divest from any companies that had South African ties.
And there's his brother, Kevin, who the family adopted at age 8 from Costa Rica. Through DNA and ancestry research, they determined that Kevin is the descendant of an enslaved African from Nigeria, who was taken to Jamaica.
They've all had significant influences on Jasper, who hopes to use his platform as an NHL draft pick of the San Jose Sharks and a key player on UND's No. 1-ranked team to shine a light on race issues and make any advances possible.
"My grandma always said, 'It's never the wrong time to do the right thing,'" Jasper said.
Fleeing the Nazis
Jasper's grandfather, Ralph Temple, was dodging bombs at age 7.
Growing up in London in 1940, nightly Nazi bombings became so common that his family slept in an air raid shelter for six weeks. Sometimes, the bombings occurred during the daytime, too.
"I remember my mother, with me in her arms, running with many others in the streets amid the din of explosions, to the tunneled public shelter in Beaumont Street Park," Ralph wrote in his memoirs . "After the raid, it was strange to see houses sliced open and their insides exposed, the profiles of the different floors, the furniture, scattered clothing and belongings, piles of rubble."
Ralph's mother agonized about whether to flee to America, where she and Ralph could get in because of a family connection. Doing so meant they would have to leave behind Ralph's father, because he was being called into the Royal British Army.
They did, though, and settled in Miami. They weren't reunited with Ralph's father for 10 years.
"It was a terrifying experience to have to flee," Ralph's son, Johnny, said. "He carried with him a deep, deep rage at the Nazis. I think any injustice would remind him of what he, a Jewish person, had to experience fleeing while bombs were falling. My dad could lose his temper, a frightening rage, and it always had the flavor of being bombed by the Nazis."
After graduating from Harvard law school, Ralph went to work underneath one of the most impactful lawyers in American history, Thurgood Marshall, at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Marshall had just successfully argued the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
In 1964, Ralph spent two weeks in St. Augustine, Fla., working on cases to uphold the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He worked with Martin Luther King Jr., who had been arrested in St. Augustine months earlier, on a case.
Ralph continued his civil rights work with the American Civil Liberties Union. He worked extensively on behalf of protesters' rights and on ending racially discriminatory practices.
"My dad was deeply patriotic to the United States," Johnny said. "To him, the United States had saved his life and saved his family and saved other Jewish people. He bought into this notion of freedom and justice for all. He bought it hook, line and sinker. That was part of the reason he was so outraged by the treatment of African Americans. He did a lot of work with racial justice, because injustices against Black people reminded my dad of the Nazis."
In 1980, Ralph met Ann Macrory, who already had four children, including Jasper's mother, Lucinda. They met through their civil rights work, where Ann also had a deep background.
Marching in Selma and beyond
Ann, Jasper's grandmother, was attending law school at Georgetown in Washington, D.C., during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and soon became deeply involved.
On Aug. 28, 1963, she stood in the National Mall watching Martin Luther King Jr., give his famed 'I Have a Dream' speech during the March on Washington.
Less than a year after graduating with a law degree in 1964, she watched on TV as Alabama State Troopers brutally beat protesters, led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. That event became known as Bloody Sunday.
Compelled to act, Ann, age 25, drove to Selma. There, she joined protesters in their five-day march to Montgomery and the steps of the state capitol in support of voting rights. Ann recalled walking alongside a Black woman, helping hold her baby, as they marched through Dallas and Lowdnes Counties. At times, racist locals yelled at them.
Ann also fought for civil rights in the courtroom. She helped launch the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and served as co-director for 20 years, fighting for immigrant rights, housing equality and judicial selection committees.
"My mom was my hero growing up," Lucinda said. "I was so proud of the work she did. She stuck up for people who didn't have as much as we did. . . for all the disadvantaged. That was inspiring."
Lucinda, Jasper's mother, was immersed in civil rights from the beginning.
Although the family grew up in a wealthier Washington, D.C., neighborhood, Lucinda's mother, Ann, and father, Patrick, sent her and three siblings across town to attend a nearly all-Black school for kindergarten.
"My parents wanted us to get the experience of being the ones who were different," Lucinda said.
Every Christmas, their family would invite a financially struggling family over to join them. Whenever they went on vacation, they'd bring an inner-city family, who had never left the boundaries of D.C., along with them.
There was protesting, too.
Ann once took Lucinda to the South African embassy to protest apartheid.
Soon after, Lucinda lobbied her high school's administrators to divest from any companies that dealt with the South African government during apartheid. School administrators agreed.
Jasper was born in January 1998 in Oregon, where his parents, Lucinda and Dicken, had settled. By that time, Ralph and Ann were married and living in Oregon, too.
So, Jasper grew up surrounded by civil rights fighters, who heavily influenced his life. Lucinda and Dicken raised Jasper to educate himself, read the news, be aware of issues and to build bridges with others.
Jasper was always engaged. At just 5 years old, he would challenge Ralph in debates. Ralph, the powerful and dynamic ACLU litigator who took on the Jim Crow South, would not let Jasper off the hook. In his thunderous, bellowing voice, he would argue back.
"You would think a kid would shrink and be terrified," Lucinda said. "But he wouldn't."
They would go back and forth. After a while, Lucinda would hear a pause as Jasper thought.
"Then," Lucinda said, "you'd hear Jasper say, 'Good point, grandpa.'
"It was the cutest thing."
Ralph's civil rights work continued in Oregon.
"He would go after any signs of injustice or racism," Jasper said. "If he read something in the paper, he'd go out and protect minority families, homeless people, anyone he thought the law was failing. I was really young and didn't really grasp what he was doing all the time, but it's one of those things you look back and wow, he was a powerful man who was doing the right thing."
The family made several trips to Costa Rica as Jasper was growing up. They did not stay at the common tourist destinations on the Pacific Ocean side. They stayed in a shack without electricity on the Caribbean Sea side, near a reservation where the indigenous Bribri people lived.
Jasper always fit in with the local children.
"He would run around and want to hang out with them all day long," Lucinda said. "It was an experience for him being in the non-majority. He was the only White kid. He fit right in. He would be hugging them and swimming with them and playing with them."
One of the children in the pack of friends was Kevin, whose mother was Bribri. Kevin grew up on Telamanca reservation in Costa Rica before moving to Cocles.
Jasper gets a brother
Kevin was staying with his aunt, a friend of Ann's, at the time. Through that connection, Lucinda and Dicken learned that Kevin had been bouncing around between homes in Costa Rica and was looking for a permanent home.
They went through a lengthy process that took over a year to adopt Kevin.
"I was super excited," Kevin said about the idea of moving to the United States with the Weatherby family. "I feel like most of what I saw (about America) was on television. I was thinking about big cities. So, I was surprised when I went straight to a farm. I envisioned more of a city. But I grew up in Costa Rica in jungles and beaches, so a farm isn't too distantly far from that. It was a really beautiful area."
Kevin only spoke Spanish at the time. He had four months to learn English in order to start third grade.
There was a big adjustment to American life, too.
"There were a lot of social aspects I wasn't used to," Kevin said. "I wasn't used to being tucked in (before bed). That's not really how Latin culture is. I remember thinking hot tubs and saunas were so weird. 'You guys do this for fun?' Come winter, I figured it out. I had never seen snow before. It was a big adjustment."
Kevin, who is two years older than Jasper, is extremely outgoing, very curious, can hold a conversation with anyone -- something that has served him well while working jobs as a barista and bartender. He's currently pursuing a degree, potentially in a medical field like physical therapy.
Kevin's talents span many different areas. He speaks English, Spanish and French. He plays guitar and writes his own songs. He can play piano. He has acted in plays. He's an outstanding dancer. He's into poetry. He paints and draws. He lifts weights and excelled in sports growing up, especially soccer.
"I always joke that I stuck with hockey because he was better than me at everything else," Jasper said.
George Floyd sparks a movement
In addition to growing up with a diverse group of friends, Jasper also was exposed to activism as a child.
He joined family members at environmental and prison reform protests growing up. As he got older, he became more and more aware of the role his grandparents played in the Civil Rights Movement.
"I remember thinking that was so long ago," Weatherby said. "Then, I started thinking about how it's not that long ago. Then, it was like, 'Oh my God, this stuff is still happening.'"
Weatherby was driving from Oregon back to Grand Forks in early June as the country erupted in protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. When he arrived in Grand Forks, only a few teammates were in town, including his roommates, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Mark Senden.
They discussed the Black Lives Matter movement together. They watched Ava DuVernay's documentary, 13th, which explores the history of racial inequality in the American prison system.
When a Black Lives Matter march was organized in Grand Forks, Weatherby, Bernard-Docker and senior Peter Thome attended it together.
UND players have been discussing ideas on how to keep the movement going during the upcoming hockey season, one in which the Fighting Hawks will likely start as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.
"We've had some healthy conversations," said Weatherby, the 6-foot-3, 212-pound center who had 10 goals and 18 points last season. "What more can we do? It's time for a change to happen. We're in a great spot with our platform.
"I think people thought that the impact of slavery and segregation ended when the Civil Rights Act was passed, but I think that's so not true. What you're seeing with mass incarceration, people being moved into projects, going to bad schools and being set up for failure is very real and it's still happening. I think with hockey, I'm in an interesting place where maybe I can use this platform to address a group of people who might not be as exposed to it."
For the time being, he continues to offer his thoughts on social media. Weatherby's Twitter bio reads, "Black Lives Matter." His Instagram page has just one collection, labeled "BLM."
A message on Instagram
Johnny Temple, Ralph's son, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is the founder of Akashic Books, a publishing company. Among the company's specialties is publishing books from African-American authors and other Black authors from the African diaspora.
One of those books is "We Matter: Athletes and Activism," which was written by former NBA player Etan Thomas. Johnny interviewed Thomas, one of the first athletes to speak out against the War in Iraq, about his book. Johnny said he's struck by athletes who are willing to put their careers on the line to speak out.
"I've been impressed by how compelled (Jasper) is to speak about injustices when he sees them," Johnny Temple said. "That's something my father had. Jasper seems to not just be someone who wants to do the right thing, but feels emotionally compelled to speak up when he sees something that isn't right."
It was late one morning this summer when a personal message landed in Weatherby's Instagram inbox.
It was from a UND student, who had noticed Weatherby's activity on social media.
"I don't know if you'll ever get this and I don't know why I'm sending this," the message started, "but I had an urge to say thank you. As a black student that attended UND, I've never felt comfortable on this campus so seeing you use your voice for the movement honestly makes a difference."
It was validation for what Weatherby has been doing.
Ralph and Ann have both passed away. Ralph died in 2011. Ann died in January.
But their legacies, carried from London to Washington, from St. Augustine to Selma, from Ashland to Vermont, are living on through Jasper in another moment of racial reckoning.
"He has a lot of my mom's courage," Lucinda said. "Oh, I know she would be so proud of him."