I had the feeling that he would rather not listen, rather not be persuaded. I wondered if he and some of the Negroes present were spurred on to this sacrifice because they felt guilty for having escaped the suffering of their southern brother, their ghettoed brother. Now, at last, they had the opportunity to take a stand, to carry their share of the work. Was this their freedom ride? Their Birmingham jail?
"Ron," said Earl, "I wonder if you are really aware of all that has happened here. It has been quite a bit more than that pool-hall incident in Atlanta."
Earl began to relate the facts. Others in the room followed suit. When they had finished I knew that I would fail to convince them.
Here are some of the things that had happened: All of the Negroes had trouble securing cabs from the airport to their hotels; one group was stranded there for more than three hours. Another group had been dropped off eight blocks from their destination. Once in the city the cab problem continued.
Abner Haynes asked to go to a certain nightclub and instead was taken to another one a mile away that is a hangout for perverts.
Many players were refused admittance to nightspots.
Ernie Ladd, Dick Westmoreland and a couple of others had been turned away from one Bourbon Street club by a man who indicated he had a gun.
Ernie Warlick was tongue-lashed by a lady who objected when he hung his coat near hers in a restaurant.
All the players, it seemed, had been exposed to varying degrees of indignity.
"No matter how frequently these occurred," I persisted, though I saw little hope of overcoming such valid emotion, "they are still isolated acts and the whole city cannot be held responsible. What you plan will do harm to yourselves, a great number of innocent people, and to the rights movement in this area. Give us some time to resolve this."