William Lynn Weaver (WLW)
WLW: The school’s mascot was a Confederate colonel and at football games, when you came out on the field, the crowd would be hollering and the Dixie would be playing and they’d hold the paper flag up and the team would burst out through the Confederate flag. The black players made a decision to run around the flag.
We had teams who refused to play us because we had black players. There were always racial comments, uh, banners with the n-word, and, at one point in time, there was even a dummy with a noose around its neck hanging from the goal posts.
I remember we played an all-white school. The game was maybe only in the second quarter. My brother tackled their tight end and broke his collarbone. And when they had to take him off the field with his arm in a sling, that’s when the crowd really got ugly.
We were on the visitors’ sideline and they were coming across the field; so we backed up against the fence. I remember the coach saying, ”Keep your helmet on,” so I was pretty afraid. And then a hand reaches through the fence and grabs my shoulder pads. I look around and it’s my father. And I turned to my brother, I said, “It’s okay; Dad’s here.”
The state police came and escorted us to the buses. The crowd is still chanting and throwing things at the bus and, as the bus drives off, I look back and I see my father standing there and all these angry white people. And I said to my brother, ”How’s Daddy going to get out of here? They might kill him.”
We get to the high school and the most incredible feeling I think I’ve ever had was when my father walked through the door of the locker room and said, “Are you ready to go?” As if nothing had happened. And I wanted to tell him, ”Dad, don’t come to any more games,” but selfishly I couldn’t. I needed him there for me to feel safe.
Normally when you’re with a team you feel like everybody’s going to stand together; and I never got that feeling that the team would stand with me if things got bad. I think a number of the white students who were there with me would say now, If I could have did something different, I would’ve said something. But that’s what evil depends on, good people to be quiet.