Dear Dr. King, the odds of people of color overcoming racism and bigotry in America–are non-existent. Every time we make a little progress, they change the rules. The Kerner Report warned us in 1968 we were headed for two different Americas, one Black and one White—that America is here! They got it right, but no one was listening.
Pro Sports and Corporate America are our best barometers (White Privilege). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTWMUhYG0Y8/ Dallas, Texas sportscaster Dale Hansen.
Dr. King, meet a trail blazer, track and Field star, Roseanna “Rose” Robinson. She sat in protest almost a decade before the 1968 Olympic Game’s track and field stars, John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Ms. Robinson was a high jumper and sprinter for the U. S. Summer Pan American Games. It was the summer of 1959 and I had just graduated from Fairmont Height High School in Prince Georges County.
Chicago was the host city for the games and it was overrun with 2,000 athletes from 24 countries participating. As the U. S. national anthem started to play, the crowd inside Soldier Field rose to its feet in excitement, but Ms. Robinson kept her seat in protest. This track and field athlete was not there for the bloated displays of American greatness. To her, the anthem and the flag represented war, injustice, and hypocrisy.
Ms. Robinson was harassed for her political stand after the games were over. The most devastating blow was at the hands of the IRS. Just six months after the games they hauled her into court for back taxes and sentenced her to one-year and one-day. She refused to pay $346.00. She told the judge, “If I pay income tax, I am participating in the U. S. government’s propensity for violence and war.”
In August 2019 sixty-years later at these same Pam American Games, Ms. Gwen Berry a Hammer Thrower, stood on the podium wearing bright blue lipstick and a gold medal around her neck. As the end of the national anthem played, she bowed her head and raised her fist, issuing a silent protest motivated by her personal journey and her belief that, “America can do better.” She was penalized by the United States Olympic Committee and placed on probation and issued a public letter aimed at intimidating and discouraging further protest!