Jim Crow on the Road

Civil Disobedience

"I wound up in jail."

"My roommate was arguably the best basketball player who ever played the game. His name was Wilt Chamberlain. Even though the team was owned by a Jewish man, our traveling secretary, shall I say, was not exactly a big fan of Jews or blacks. I roomed with Wilt Chamberlain because he thought it was an insult to both of us, putting the black kid and the Jewish kid together. The big guy and I became very close friends.

Some of the cities we went too, like Cincinnati and Saint Louis, followed the Jim Crow laws, so the black athletes on our team were not allowed to stay in the same hotels that we stayed in... I, and some of the other players, stayed in the same hotels as our black players stayed in. The police came and arrested us for what in those days was called civil disobedience. What I was trying to avoid by joining the military happened when I was playing basketball, I wound up in jail."