There are many people angry and hurt and I get that greatly ! I have been angry for a long long time about Police brutality. I have witnessed it for years in different situations but the first one affected me so much that I fought back and was only 16.
I was working at the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium. There were three of my friends who were ushers. We did not get paid but got free access to all the concerts. All we had to do was take the tickets and show people their seats. We also would help people back to their seats if they could not find them after leaving for a bathroom break.
The year was 1967. One of our parents drove us to the center everytime and stayed till the shows were over. We had Flamingo dancers, and all of the latest rock groups perform. It was mostly people like Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Four Seasons, The New Beats, The Ventures and on unlucky times for teenagers would be some performers that did not interest us like Robert Goulet. We liked the latest teen idols and superstars. We also had access to backstage.
We were ushering the night The Supremes played. Diana Ross and the Supremes. We loved Baby Love and the excitement was very real. This was the largest well known Black group of the time and most people loved The Supremes.
I can still see what went down that night. I can still feel the rage and hurt and I did not understand. I had just shown a lady her seat after she had returned from a bathroom break and the place was rocking. Kids were jumping and dancing and moving and the Supremes had total command of the show. They created so much excitement , it was hard to sit in your seat. We stood. up against walls and watched the performance. There was a heavy police presence in Atlanta for that performance. Do not ask me why. I had never seen so many cops in one place that was supposed to be for security.
I had just escorted a blacklady to her seat which was in touching distance of what went down next. The majority of the crowd was made up of POC.
The Supremes were getting very positive feedback from the audience. They were yelling and cheering and having a terrific time. One little girl. Little girl I say again, jumped from her seat and ran towards the stage and this was not uncommon at all with well known superstars. This child could not have been over 11 or 12 years of age. A cop came from out of nowhere as I was heading back to my wall and grabbed her and took his flashlight and bashed this child in the mouth causing teeth and blood to spew everywhere. Blood was spewing as the child went down. This was during Jim Crow. Just a couple of POC rushed to the child. I turned back towards the cop and screamed at him. “ What are you doing?” “ Why did you hit that kid”. Are you insane? “ You are an animal”, she is just a kid and wanted to get closer”. I was crying and mad as hell even at 16. A black lady took me by the arm and pulled me gently away and said, “ Child, Child, move away. Babygirl, get away from him.” This happens and I was livid. That lady possibly saved me from gettin hurt because I still see her face. She said, “ We are used to this. You are a white child but he will turn on you. Be quiet. Stay away.” She escorted me to the concession area as I was still yelling at the cop, turning around as he looked smugly at me and there was no riot just black ladies helping this kid up and getting her away from the cop. Not one other cop tried to stop him.
This thing could have turned bad quickly. It could have been an all out riot. Diana Ross saw the commotion and stopped singing and moved closer to the edge of the stage. She Changed songs to a mellow song. I was too young to realize she could handle the excitement and calm it down as she probably had seen this more than once. It was sure new to me and I was still yelling and crying.
I had to go outside and catch my breath. I walked outside and one of the parents saw me, as they were outside and told me to get in the car. I told them what happened and was crying. I was scolded by the parent that drove us that night. I don’t remember which friend’s parent it was. I do remember what she said and when she said it, I got more confused. She said, “ You had no business getting involved. Those Ni..ers don’t know how to act and ruin things for everybody, It is none of your business.” “ That cop was just keeping order”. I was so mad my tears were flowing again.
I was done. I never went back to usher and I never hung around that girl or her parent again. I thought, “ Why didn’t I get my teeth knocked out”. I could have. That black lady who got me away from him knew I could but she also knew I was white and I was making bad matters worse because there were white people in the audience as well and I was on the black side and the right side of the incident but getting up in a cop’s face was dangerous.
I told my parents what happened and they said, “ No you are not going back and they looked scared that I had gotten involved. I only remember my Mother saying, “ Times are too dangerous for you to be going into Atlanta with racial problems going on. You could have been killed.” I was even madder that no one seemed to care about that little girl. No white person but me anyway. Mama didn’t even ask how she was. I did not understand. I did not understand.
I will never ever forget that incident and this brutality is nothing new because come June 18th I will be 70 YOA and I have been a witness to this kind of cruelty since I was 16.
Say his name and I pray that little girl in 66 got help because I know she was traumatized. I know I was mad and probably traumatized over such brutality from a man with a badge and flashlight who just had to show his white privilege. Black Lives Matter. They did then and they do now !
– Interracial Council for Business Opportunity’s third annual award ceremony and dinner at the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Biltmore in New York where Berry Gordy is awarded for business leadership. During his acceptance speech, he announces the creation of the Lucy Wakefield Business Career Clinic (named after his late sister).”We Couldn’t Get Along Without You”, a new version of “My World Is Empty Without You” with new lyrics, recorded in secret by the Supremes, was piped into the PA system by surprise at the end of Berry Gordy’s speech.
– Beginning of a college tour across the South, with a concert at the Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta.