A few minutes earlier I had been presumptuous enough to think I could influence their decision. Sid Gillman, coach of the West squad, had been standing, somewhat stunned and helpless, outside our quarters, the Roosevelt Hotel, while someone informed him of what had happened: all the Negro players had been abused in some manner since their arrival in New Orleans and had decided to leave the city.
I felt that something was wrong about what the Negro ballplayers were doing. Not wrong to protest, but wrong in method. An action such as this must lead to a favorable result. What would be accomplished by their actions? Nothing that I could see.
"Sid, let me skip practice and talk to them."
"Well, I don't see how...yes, O.K., go ahead."
As I rode the elevator to the room where the Eastern and Western Negro All-Stars were meeting, I tried to etch in my mind points that must be covered.
I walked into one of two adjoining rooms. The Negro athletes were divided, a group in each room watching the NFL-All-Star game on television. I saw Earl Faison near the television set in the opposite room so, not saying a word, I walked through the first room to Earl. "Hello, Ron," said Clem Daniels, standing up to greet me with a handshake.
"Hi, Clem. Say, Clem, Earl, I'd like to talk to all you fellows."
"Sure," said Earl. "Call the others in."
All the Negroes—perhaps 20—crowded into the room, taking seats where they could, some leaning against the wall, most standing. I searched the faces for some clue as to my reception. Some of the faces looked curious; on some was the impatience of a Negro who knows he is going to hear some more of Mister Charlie's promise of a distant something; a few were unmistakably cold: their minds were set; nothing would change them. Earl turned off the television, and I began:
"Men, I want to talk to you because I feel that what you're doing is wrong. Some action is necessary, but your method will not do our cause any good. And that cause is to try to rectify all the injustices, to restore dignity to all men. You must look at the overall effects of your action. Will it serve any good to New Orleans? Hell no. The whole city isn't guilty. Many people here have tried to extend all the courtesies they have control over. They can't control the feelings and actions of individuals. Do you think that those ignorant individuals who wrong you give a damn whether or not they see a football game? They'll be glad to see you go. And so what's been done? Those low-lifes have their way. You're gone.