Friday, July 1, 2011
Book Excerpt Of The Week: “Callus On My Soul” By: Dick Gregory
“The first protest I did alone was to challenge the fact we didn’t even have our public accommodation bill passed here in the United States. I flew to St. Louis where the AAU was holding national track and field championships and selecting a team to compete in Moscow. I was asking the Black athletes there not to go. They didn’t understand that they were representing a country overseas and they were not free at home. The press was there from all over the world. I stood there alone, but not afraid. Everyone walked by me and ignored me , even the Black folks. One coach even spat at me. I got on the plane and went back to San Francisco where I was again at the hungry I. I left feeling defeated, alone and hurt. It took four years for that hurt to dissipate.
At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, two Black track and field athletes, Tommy Smith and John Carlos, came in first and second for the United States in the 200-meter dash. As they were presented with their medals, they each raised a Black-gloved fist in the air in front of the whole world in solidarity with the Black Power Movement. The world was never the same. A year later when I was in Thailand, the number one-selling souvenir was a Black fist attached to a key chain. When a reporter asked Harry Edwards, the professor at San Jose University who had engineered Smith and Carlos’s demonstration, where he got the idea, his response shocked me: ‘I saw Dick Gregory protest the try-outs of the Olympics in St. Louis.’
When I read that, I felt mor humiliated than I had in St. Louis. I felt humiliated because I realized that all God had been doing at those Olympic tryouts was planting a seed, like the farmer planting his crop. He didn’t need me; He just chose me. He was saying to me: ‘This is my crop, this is my sun, this is my rain, this is my cool evening, this is my morning dew. You don’t determine when it is harvest time. Only I determine that.’ I was trying to make harvest time come and I had no right to do that. All is was doing was planting God’s seed.” -From, “Callus On My Soul” By: Dick Gregory