T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Being the only African-American on the baseball team
Joseph Charles by Chelsea Arseneault, 2016.
JOSEPH CHARLES: So I got to practice with these guys, and I played football with them during the year. I played basketball with them during the year. I ran track with them during the year. So I figure, well, it's summertime we're playing baseball. We should be okay. Well they all stayed in huddles a lot in practice. So I practiced. They played; I practiced. So it got time for the first game. Now this is an all-white team, and I'm the only black on this team.

So I'm the only black kid, so I'm sitting in the bench. I go sit by this guy named Bur, see. He is the second-string quarterback for the high school. I know him. I'm on the same football team with him. So I go sit by him in the dugout. His daddy comes to talk to him at the fence, and he moves to the other end of the dugout. Now, I'm the only one, sitting right here. Everybody else sitting over there. I'm like, "What's going on?" I ask Burt, said, "What's going on?' He said, "My step-daddy said, 'Boy if you want to sleep in my house tonight don't be sitting by that nigger.'" So he moved. I said, "Man, look! [laughing] You got to go home tonight, man. You got to. I understand. You got to live in that man . . . Go over there. I'm fine over here by myself." He said, "Man I'm sorry. I ain't got no choice." I said, "I do understand that." I understand that.
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