Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writer responds to fraternity members' comments

     Editor’s Note: The day before the plane crash, there was a scary on-campus racial incident that occurred after an intramural football game involving an-all white fraternity and the school's black student organization. There’s a chapter in the memoir November Ever After which provides a detailed account of this episode. There are members of Kappa Alpha who are not pleased with what was written in the book about their fraternity as it relates to the racial confrontation. In today’s blog entry, I respond to the four KA members whose comments appeared in yesterday's blog.

       Race relations on the Marshall University campus suffered a severe setback when blacks and whites got embroiled in a nasty physical altercation on a Friday the 13th in November of 1970. During the melee, three white males were beaten to the point of having to be admitted to the hospital.
      The Friday fights erupted after a bitterly-fought intramural playoff football game involving the all-white Kappa Alpha Fraternity and Black United Students. The sparks started to fly when three KA pledges ran through a crowd of blacks while waving the Confederate flag.
      There’s an assumption that all the blacks who participated in the fight that day were members of BUS. Not true. A sizeable portion of the blacks who attended that intramural game were from the local community and were not college students.
      The KAs were known for proudly displaying the Confederate flag at public events. For most black people, the Rebel flag served as a grim reminder of the inhumanity of slavery and the vestiges of racism in the Deep South.
       Marshall’s black students made it known that they considered the “Stars & Bars” to be offensive for those reasons. Previous pleas to the MU administration to ban the presence of that flag at school-sponsored events produced no favorable results.
       When those pledges ran through the crowd waving the Rebel Flag, it was viewed by blacks as taunting. The act was also perceived as being deliberate.
       So, was the violence justified?
       No it wasn’t.
       The same can be said for taunting.
      Waving a Confederate flag in front of an angry group of blacks was ill-advised. It just goes to show how a bad decision can bring about the worst of consequences. In this case, nobody (blacks and whites) did the right thing. One wrong did not justify the other.
       As things turned out, race became a non-issue the following night when Marshall’s plane crashed, killing all of the seventy-five passengers on board. At that time, we all learned first-hand that the tragedy was not a black thing; it was not a white thing; it was a death thing, and death does not discriminate. Death is color blind.


  1. Roberta Hamilton AllenTuesday, November 22, 2011

    Congratulations on the publication of your book. I checked to see if it was downloadable via Kindle. Purchased it.

  2. Hmmmm. I read the blogs from the fraternity members wanting to set the record straight. I know two white ladies that I have been friends with since I was at Marshall. We never really speak of color but are still as close as can be. And of course I made my African-American friends "for life." However, ever since I stepped foot on the MU campus in 1967, there was a resentment toward "Old South Weekend" with the Rebel flag, the Confederate uniforms and the antebellum ball gowns. What else was a black student suppose to think of? Oh, maybe singing in the field and picking cotton and all the rest of the harsh memories of slavery days? It just wasn't a good thing. I know we all have rights but it was better that all of that stopped. I do not believe in violence and I am sorry that someone was hurt. But, for a long time, it was a powder keg about to explode. I wasn't on campus that fateful weekend because I had gone out of town. But I still remember the football players and so many others with many fond memories and sadness.

  3. Well said my brother!!