Arshay Cooper, author of the memoir A Most Beautiful Thing, which has now been transformed into a remarkable documentary film, spoke virtually to the Belmont Hill community on Friday.
Mr. Cooper was joined by Aquil Abdullah, who earned a silver medal in the single at the 1999 Pan Am Games and was the first African American male rower to qualify for the 2004 Summer Olympics. Joining them in the discussion was Caleb Collins ’93, Director of Community and Diversity, and Stephen George, math teacher and rowing coach. The film was produced by Mary Mazzio, an Olympic rower and Belmont Hill parent.
“A Most Beautiful Thing” tells the story of the first African American high school rowing team. The rowers came from rival gangs who had experienced the crippling trauma of living in the violent neighborhoods of the West Side of Chicago. Mr. Cooper and Mr. Abdullah offered their views on experiencing the mostly white sport of rowing. Mr. Cooper also fielded questions from students and faculty, who had watched the film earlier in the week during their advisory time. A Most Beautiful Thing is a powerful, inspiring, and hopeful story of transformation and empowerment.
Mr. Cooper has been a guest speaker for JP Morgan, Winklevoss Capital, NAACP Convention, Atlanta Hawks, Comcast NBC Events, Oakland A’s, Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, Cornell University, Union Hospital, Moody Analytics, Hobson’s, Morehouse School of Medicine, USRowing Conference, British Rowing, Victory Outreach International, SC Johnson, Vanguard, UFC Fighters, Americorps, Ebertfest, University of Chicago, among many other conventions, companies, universities, and organizations.
His book can be purchased anywhere books are sold and his film A Most Beautiful Thing is now on Xfinity Comcast, Peacock, and Amazon Prime.