A small but noble bit of history has passed as Leland Mitchell, who was on the Mississippi State team which defied a Mississippi court order and played Loyola in 1963, has died. This was at the most difficult moment of the Civil Rights era: just 15 months later, and only an hour away from Starksville, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, who were part of a voter registration drive, would be lynched.
To give it a slightly different perspective, Marcus Dupree, who was seen at one point as a running back in the class of OJ Simpson, Jim Brown and Bo Jackson, was born in Philadelphia one month prior to the murders.
Anyway, the Klan wasn't a joke then as it generally is now; they were ruthless and willing to kill to maintain white supremacy. The man who handed down the injunction against the team was an ipso facto sympathizer of their beliefs if not their methods.
It seems a bit like a lark now from our perspective, but we're guessing it wasn't. Mitchell said it didn't hit the team until later just what they had done, but they knew about the injunction, they probably knew the governor's stance, and they more than likely got an earful from some relatives too.
We're sorry he's dead obviously, but he was part of something important and much bigger than himself. That's a nice legacy.
Speaking of the Klan as a joke, we heard a bit on NPR last weekend from a filmmaker named Christy Chan, whose family moved to a small Virginia town and was greeted by the Klan in their predictable fashion.
Being eight, she answered the hate mail very politely, hoping to hang out with a wizard. Even someone as ugly and bitter as a Grand Wizard must, have, on some level, been impressed by her openness and audacity.
She eventually won; they quit writing.