One sign that we have come a long way is that when I saw a banner at the bottom of the screen during an ESPN broadcast that 5 members of the Southern Mississippi pep band had been disciplined for racially taunting a player from Kansas State during an NCAA game was that I wondered what racist taunts could come from a group that had 5 black starters on their team? Surely whatever they said could not come close to what Perry Wallace, now a professor of law at American University, heard when he became the first black athlete in the Southeastern Conference, playing for Vanderbilt in 1967. The arenas were small and intimate with the crowds right on top of the court. Verbal abuse came not only from the fans but from the other teams.
This is from an article in the Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/basketball/college/article970327.ece
During his first varsity game at Ole Miss, Wallace was punched in the eye and injured going for a rebound. The crowd cheered.
"Both of the Mississippi schools and both of the Alabama schools — those were the worst," Wallace said. "In other places, you still had prejudice, at Louisiana and at the University of Tennessee, those could be bad. But the Mississippi and Alabama schools were the worst.
"These people were mobsters, like Klansmen, and these were people right from that world," he added. "They knew how to destroy a black person. And that's what they tried to do to me. They did what they could to try to induce fear in me and basically make me fail. I had to make sure that I did not succumb to that."
And now the sons and daughters of these students who were yelling racist taunts are now cheering for 5 black players? How ironic. So what were they yelling at the K State player Angel Rodriguez? It was “Where is your green card?”
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