Interview with Edwin Pope

To change tone now, take me to Yulee, Florida. Tell me that story.


That bus ride had one very unpleasant moment. The first night we were out, ah, we stopped at little place called Yulee, Y-U-L-E-E, Florida, up in north Florida and it's really back in the country. They had to pipe daylight in there; it'd take you a week to get a postcard out there. Ah, Ali didn't wanna stop. Everybody else wanted to stop, to get some food. Ali said, "I don't wanna to stop till we get through Georgia. We want to get his bus through Georgia because I don't want anybody, having to, ah, fool with any Ku Klux Klanmen[SIC], Klansmen or any, as he put it, any Georgia Baptist." Ah, and nonetheless, they pulled into this little, ah, roadside stand in Yulee, Florida about 11:30 at night and Drew Brown, the assistant trainer they called Bundini Brown, went in to try to get some food to take with us. And the proprietor, um, refused Bundini. He said, "You have to go around to the window outside." Well, Bundini, he got very upset about it. George Plimpton, ah, stepped up and said, ah, and so did, ah, Bud Collins and so did I, ah, stepped up and asked if, how they had the right to do this, wasn't this the United States? And, ah, this man says, "No, this is not the United States." And, ah, he may have had a point there. I think it wasn't a part of the United States at the time and may not be yet for that matter. In any case, Bundini got back on the bus and he was crying, he was sobbing, ah, in terrible shape. And Ali says, "I told you not to do that. I told you, you're in the wrong part of the country to go in and, for a Black person to go in and try to order food." He says, "I don't have any damn sympathy for you, whatever." And he took, picked up his pillow and started beating him over the head with it, half in jest, half seriously. It was a very touching moment though. Bundini was weeping and talking about having been in the service and fought for his country and was denied, ah, just the most basic human right. And Ali, seeming in a wisdom far beyond his years, discerning even advan- in advance, the treatment that he knew Bundini would get, and warning him and berating him for trying to defy convention at that time.


We'll roll out.