My father grew up in the South. He went into a general store as a youngster with his own father and went to the nearest drinking barrel and got the scooper out and took a drink. His father came over and punched him. Wondering why, my grandfather yelled at him that this barrel was for colored folks.
If you are not familiar with that situation, back in the old days the South was segregated. There was a bathroom, or restroom, for ‘whites only’ and a bathroom for ‘colored only’.
There were drinking fountains that were the same. In the backwoods part of the world where my father grew up they had barrels filled with water. One barrel for white people and one barrel for colored people. Each barrel had a ladle for a thirsty person to come up and dip the ladle in the barrel and get a nice, cool drink of water.
My father, after being hit once, asked what is different between our germs and theirs and he was punched again. At least that’s the way he told it to me.
That’s also the way I grew up. I was one of the few white guys in my school that hung out with black guys.
What is the difference between one race of people’s germs against another races’?
Germs are germs. People are people.
If the name Richmond Flowers sounds like a name from the Old South, that’s because it is. Richmond Flowers is as Old South as they come, but he is not like what you would expect. He was not the typical Southerner of his day and age.
Richmond Flowers was born about the time of the end of World War 1, in 1918, and grew up in Dotham, Alabama. He graduated from Auburn University and got his law degree from University of Alabama School of law in Tuscaloosa.
When World War 2 started, he enlisted, and he reached the rank of captain. Even better, he served with General Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific.
After the war, Richmond Flowers entered politics. Now, I have zero interest in politics. But, I find Flowers fascinating because he became the Attorney General of the state of Alabama and he was opposed to segregation and racism back in the 1960’s when this country nearly went to war over this very subject.
He battled Alabama icon and Governor George Wallace on racial issues in Alabama. The Ku Klux Klan burned crosses in his yard and threw bricks threw his windows. But, Richmond Flowers never stopped fighting them and prosecuting them when he was able.
Later, Flowers was convicted of conspiring to extort payments from businesses seeking licenses while he was an elected official.
Richmond Flowers swears he was set up by the Klan and their supporters for being against segregation and I believe him.
He was sentenced to 8 years in Federal Prison, but was out on parole after 16 months. Former President Jimmy Carter pardoned him later on.
As I already mentioned, I am not a fan of the futility of politics. But, after researching this article I would have been a fan of Richmond Flowers. Anybody that stands up to evil, like Richmond Flowers, will naturally gain my admiration. That is true especially in his situation in the deep South where people ran around under the cover of darkness and white hoods perpetuated by ignorance and fear.
Richmond Flowers had a son named, of all things, Richmond Flowers Jr.
Junior was a talented athlete and was recruited by all the big schools including the University of Alabama. Would you be interested in attending the state school of a state that prosecuted your father of a crime he did not commit? When your dad was introduced anywhere in a public event in the state of Alabama he was booed. Would you want to stay there and attend a local school? Richmond Flowers Sr was out to right a wrong and he was abused for it.
I wouldn’t .
Richmond Flowers Jr decided on Tennessee, one of Alabama’s biggest rivals.
As good of a football player that Richmond Flowers Jr was, he may have been even better in track and field as a hurdler. He was so good in the 110 meter hurdles that he beat the 1964 Olympic Silver Medalist in May of 1965 while he was still in high school.
Not only did he choose Tennessee to get out of Alabama, but the Volunteers were building a top notch Track and Field program.
Freshmen were not eligible back then, but Flowers was a 3 time All-American in Track. Richmond Flowers Jr was one of the favorites to win the 1968 Olympics. He had beaten Willie Davenport of Southern University in the Pelican Relays in New Orleans. But, Flowers pulled a hamstring right before the qualifying race and never made it to the Olympics.
Davenport went on to win the Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City, with the injured Flowers only a spectator.
He still had football to fall back on and he was a 3 year starter for the Volunteers. Players didn’t put out the stats back then like they do now. Flowers caught 101 passes over three years on the Volunteers varsity. He also ran for 481 yards and returned Kickoffs.
After the 1967 football season Flowers made some All-American teams.
Richmond Flowers Jr was a second round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys as a return man and a defensive back and he played there briefly before being replaced by Cowboy greats Cliff Harris and then Charlie Waters. The Cowboys traded him to the New York Giants.
After 5 seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys and the Giants, Flowers became the first NFL player to sign with the brand new World Football League. He played there one season and then went to Alabama to law school just as his father had done before him.
I don’t know that Richmond Flowers Jr was the fastest white boy alive, but he was plenty fast and might could have won the Olympic Gold Medal in the 110 High Hurdles if he had gotten a lucky break.