Wednesday, November 26, 2008

After Jackie

The Jackie in "After Jackie" by Carl Fussman is Jackie Robinson. This story is not about homelessness, but about government. The Chapter is titled "The Sound of Silence" and is about "Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States" and "the day he witnessed it: June 22, 1938." What he witnessed was the sound of silence. Fussman says:

"Max Schmeling was a German, held up by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi propaganda machine as physical evidence that the Aryan race was superior. Joe Louis was an African-American, held up by blacks all across the United States as physical evidenced what a dark-skinned man could accomplish."

"...a lot of the kids in Jimmy Carter's all-white school, along with their parents, were rooting for Schmeling."

"Earl Carter was a decent man. He agreed to place his radio in the front window of his home so the black crowd could listen in from his yard. The blacks were grateful...and careful." (Schmeling/Louis title fight)

"During those 124 seconds, when the wildest hopes and dreams of all those black farmhands were being realized, they didn't make a sound. When the broadcast concluded, they said, 'Thank you, Mr. Earl,', then walked in silence back across the railroad tracks. Free black men, Americans, their emotions and voices were strangled by their fear of the possible response of white Americans if they were heard cheering for an American knockout of a German. It was only when they'd all squeezed into a shanty a few hundred yards away that they let out a roar, one that didn't stop until dawn."

Fussman tells that story comparing it to what happened in the mid-1960s. Black ballplayers had to stay silent. "...the price of speaking out might be the end of your livelihood."

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