A black man is president. Wow! I remember all the television reports about the marches in the south and the busing in the north and then meeting so many black guys in the marines and the black guys in college who were there because they could play football and how isolated they were. One especially named Bill Coleman who was a marvelous artist. And the black guys always had the best pot and laughed the loudest even louder than me. I remember when five of them came back into the dorm at the beginning of a semester steamed because they had been walking down the main street of Durango, CO. and had heard passing drivers yelling "nigger" at them.
I remember when I went to the March on Washington in 1968 and on the way back to the car a black woman on her porch, a dump, yelling at me to do something for black people!
I remember Queenie our maid coming once a week . I remember my sister's maid in Atlanta and talking to her and her son. There I volunteered to be a adult representative for black kids accused of various crimes and not being able to get through to them at all, not even understand them because I simply couldn't make out what they were actually saying.
I remember a black guy when I was in the brig bragging about killing a guy in St. Louis. I told him he was full of shit and boy did he get mad. The fact that he didn't come at me proved he was lying.
The actor who played the character Verville in the workup of my play Back to Back at Sundance was Nathan Cooke and he was the coolest black dude I ever met and now he dead because he got into so much cocaine in Hollywood. He had been on the tv show White Shadow. Remember that one? I remember alll the black guys who played Verville in Back to Back in its productions around the country. Almost all of them had trouble memorizing lines and studying the part. The kid in L.A. just couldn't cut it and he was so scared but wouldn't admit it. I remember getting nominated for an NAACP Black Image Award for writing Back to Back. I remember other black actors always uneasy because of being in such a white world.
I remember Ballew, my squadleader in Vietnam for a time. When I got shot in the leg he came down the hill with the rest of the squad to get me and ended up getting shot in the chest. I still recall the sound of the bullet buzzing over my head and then the "thump" when it hit him. He was medevaced to the Repose, the hospital ship, along with me. Unconscious on the floor of the chopper his head rolling around, the bandage on his chest bloodsoaked. He was on my ward and when we got to the Phillipines for the ship to be resupplied and he got off because he was going home. He was on his second tour already in 1967. As they wheeled him by me he said "see ya partner." Ballew had always hated me, especially since I had mistakenly fired at him on a night ambush. He hated every white person who ever lived but at that moment his hatred had calmed. I remember him as the toughest guy I ever met. He still holds that title. I remember another black guy on that ward who had his right leg blown off. I remember him moaning and I remember in the middle of the night when they wheeled him out of the ward because he had died. I remember wishing I was black because I wanted to fight a just fight.
And I remember when I was about eight years old. A black family moved into a house around the corner from us and a mob formed and began throwing rocks and bricks through their windows. The sound of the crashing of the glass still rings clear. I was seated on my bike and the training wheels were still on it. The cops just watched. Can you imagine the family hiding inside. What they were thinking and feeling.
Barack Obama Unbelievable. I'll always remember him, too