We are all part of Team Universe

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Little Rock, Arkansas, 1957, and Team Universe
Six years old and I’m in love with the American Dream,
Disney, popcorn, Bugs Bunny jokes and strawberry ice cream,
Bug eyed, chewing Hershey bars, watching movies at the base,
Baseball with the crew cut kid with the freckled southern face,
Trying to teach him soccer and the rules of cricket too,
He told me about Arkansas and I could go there soon,
And this Cold War friendship meant I didn’t see the news –
The news of you Terry Roberts, 16 years old, and incidentally black,
Slowly walking up to the gates of Central High School, Little Rock,
Central High School, Little Rock,
Segregated Black and White September Little Rock,
Better call the National Guard, right there to Little Rock,
Better call the National Guard right there to Little Rock;
But then again, I wonder if they showed that news at the Fairford US Base,
Back in Fairford, Gloucestershire, England, autumn 1957,
For it might big rock the Cold War boat,
Little Rock rock the Cold War boat.
But today, on a spring March day in the year 2002,
I met you and heard you speak,
Doctor Roberts, one of the Little Rock 9,
One of the famous historic Little Rock 9,
The Little Rock 9 who changed history,
And there you stood in front of me,
Tall, lean and handsome,
Just like you were on those iconic newsreels,
All those years ago –
And now there you stood, eminent professor and psychologist,
Telling us how the sunshine South spat its segregated hate into your eyes,
How it kicked and punched and intimidated you,
How it stole your pens and pencils and bags,
How it smeared your seats with peanut butter and glass,
How its lynch mobs left Jim Crow effigies hanging
And twisting from the gibbets and burning on the pyres,
How your American Dream of educating yourself,
Of educating yourself for service and ambition,
Turned into a Good Ol’ Boy American Nightmare;
How the ideology of racism tried to imprison or destroy your spirit.
And now there you stood and told us how the nine of you
Agreed upon a self disciplined necessity,
A self disciplined necessity of turning the other cheek,
Of turning the other cheek,
Into the fists of the race hate mob,
Into the face of the race hate mob.
And you told us how you 9 young women and men,
Self-consciously chose to practice non-violent action,
Non-violent action
In the face of armed white prejudice,
In the teeth of armed white prejudice,
For while it punched and kicked and spat and stole
And burned and hanged,
You stood there, proud and still,
Looking into Hatred’s eyes,
Trying to build bridges,
Trying to include them in your hopes,
For as you said today, when talking of humanity,
“Difference is the only thing we all have in common.
Difference is the only thing we all have in common.”
“We are all part of Team Universe”
We are all part of Team Universe.


This is the piece that resulted in the award of the badge of an honorary deputy sheriff LAPD – I’ve put the piece up again for Kick It Out and belatedly for Black History Month.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/we-are-all-part-of-team-universe/