Who knew sports history could strike fear in the most fearsome prison system in the
Kenneth’s case has garnered international attention because both prosecution and defense agree that he was 80 feet away from the murder of Michael LaHood. Earlier in the evening, he had been driving the man who pulled the trigger, Maurecio Brown. In
Foster and I began to exchange letters on sports and politics after he read my book Welcome to the Terrordome.
"I have never had the opportunity to view sports in this way," he wrote. "And as I went through these revelations I began to have epiphanies about the way sports have a similar existence in prison. The similarities shook me …. Facing execution, the only thing that I began to get obsessive about was how to get heard and be free, and as the saying goes — you can’t serve 2 gods. Sports, as you know, becomes a way of life. You monitor it, you almost come to breathe it. Sports becomes a way of life in prison, because it becomes a way of survival. For men that don’t have family or friends to help them financially …it becomes a way to occupy your time. That’s another sad story in itself, but it’s the root to many men’s obsession with sports."
It didn’t matter whether he was on Death Row or
I thought that sending him my first book, What’s My Name Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the
It specifically said that Pages 44 and 55 met this criteria.
After lifting my jaw off the ground, I went to read those dangerous pages. On Page 44, the radioactive quote in question was from that seditious revolutionary Jackie Robinson — you know, the guy whose number is retired by all of Major League Baseball. I quoted Robinson’s autobiography, I Never Had It Made, when he wrote about suffering racism early in his rookie season:
"I felt tortured and I tried to just play ball and ignore the insults. But it was really getting to me. … For one wild and rage-crazed moment I thought, ‘To hell with Mr. Rickey’s "noble experiment." … To hell with the image of the patient black freak I was supposed to create.’ I could throw down my bat, stride over to that Phillies dugout, grab one of those white sons of and smash his teeth in with my despised black fist. Then I could walk away from it all."
On Page 55, the offensive passage was about Jack Johnson’s defeat of the "Great White Hope," Jim Jeffries. It read: "Johnson was faster, stronger and smarter than Jeffries. He knocked Jeffries out with ease. After Johnson’s victory, there were race riots around the country — in
Let’s forget about the fact that there is something bizarre — almost comical — about
There is something repugnant about the fact that they think a book — any book — would be the source of resistance, rather than the reality that 159 people have been executed since Gov. Rick Perry took office in 2001, or the fact that the people on Death Row have no civil rights, no access to radio, television or even arts and crafts.
It reminds me of the words of Carl Oglesby of the 1960s group Students for a Democratic Society: "It isn’t the rebels who cause the troubles of the world, it’s the troubles that cause the rebels."
The officials’ fear that ideas — even the ideas of sports history — could cause a crisis in the
There was a time in
[Kenneth Foster is due to be executed on August 30th. Visit www.freekenneth.com for more information. PLEASE KEEP CALLING GOVERNOR PERRY! In