If you’ve seen the movie Selma, you know Ralph Abernathy as being portrayed as jailed with Dr King. They were jailed together 17 times in pursuit of equality during the Civil Rights Movement. If you know your American history, you know Mr. Abernathy was on the balcony in Memphis the night they killed Dr. King. He was Martin Luther King Jr’s best friend, his confidant, his right-hand man and his successor in many of Dr. King’s endeavors. Two seasons ago, two of Ralph Abernathy’s grandsons come to play football at University of Tennessee. After the eldest graduated, we still have the pleasure of seeing his younger brother suit up and take the field for the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Of all the lectures I’ve given about
the ridiculousness of subscribing to Confederate causes and being a football fan, particularly a SEC football fan, the tackiness has intensified in its meaning. Spare me your Trump-inspired, conservative talking points “black on black” crime rhetoric. On the field for the Big Orange is a kid whose grandfather knew more about real life racism than you could possibly imagine. Don’t you dare enjoy his athletic contributions without showing some respect for his granddaddy’s cause. Because the struggle is not over.
No matter how much you want to deny it, it’s not over.
And don’t you dare cling to your racist, hyperbolic rants and then celebrate gridiron wins off the backs of kids whose grandfathers fought, marched, suffered, and prevailed right alongside the likes of men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s common. And it angers me. Intensely so.