Who I was in 1969…

In October 1969, I was a 19 year old waiting for the results of the first Vietnam draft.

I graduated High School in 1968… when I was in the 10th grade at Tyner High School, the first black student was admitted to the school. I had several classes with him. He was very smart and i enjoyed the conversations I had with him. I wasn’t one of the top tier students; George was a very personable and accepting person.

In October 1969 a caravan of more than a 100 cars and pickup trucks, after the football game described below drove up and down Brainerd Road and into many areas of the community, each flying numerous Confederate Flags… and I was one of the pickup truck riders…

… the young kid riding in the back of that pickup truck on a Friday night in October is not the same person today… I hope my character is never judged based on the person I was at 19…

… I found this paper while searching for information about the nights in October…

On the night of October 3, 1969, the students of Brainerd filled the campus stadium to watch their football team, the Rebels, square off against rivals in the hallmark southern tradition of the Friday night homecoming game. Of the hundreds of students in attendance, some thirty or forty African Americans represented the disproportionately small black population attending Brainerd, shortly after halftime, this small faction of students rose from their seats and moved down to the playing field, carrying with them a rolled Confederate flag—a symbol that would have sparked southern pride and a sense of patriotism within the vast majority of the game’s white attendees.
Next, the African American students boldly stormed the playing area and, in full vision of spectators, set fire to the school’s beloved symbol—a move that incited angry white students, parents, and administrators to vacate their seats and flood the field. As violence broke out between black and white, police backup was called and ordered to remove all African Americans from the stadium. The headline of the Chattanooga Times the following morning read, “Disorderly Negroes Mar Brainerd Game,” and the cover story featured a photograph of an African American female student being pinned to the ground by the billy club of a police officer.

– from the paper

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