If You're Ever In Trouble

While we were out on bond waiting for the court date, the six of us who had been in the sit-in met with a variety of other people at a black bar and restaurant in town for planning our legal strategy and just for hanging out and socializing. Most of the legal strategy was irrelevant. All we did in the end was plead guilty and have our lawyer present an eloquent talk about the evils of segregation. The defenders segregation were so obviously on the wrong side of both ethics and history that it was a no-brainer. The socializing and free beers were pleasant enough.

I had drunk a bit too much, as was my predilection in my college days, and was walking to my room on unstable feet.

My route took me through a rough section of town. As I was walking toward a black bar I saw four tough looking black guys standing just outside the door talking with each other. Then they saw me. I figured I was in trouble. The only question was how much trouble. I figured my best strategy was to just keep walking like I wasn’t afraid and hope for the best.

When I reached the bar I tried to walk around inconspicuously. But a white guy in this section of town at this hour on a Friday night was just not inconspicuous.

One of the guys stepped out from his group and blocked my way. “Hey Man” he began.

Okay, I thought. Here it comes.

Aren’t you one of those white guys from the sit in?”

I could see right off that things had taken a turn for the better. “Yeah,” I said “Jim Hunter.”

The black guy introduced himself as Rufus Jones, and he reached out to shake my hand. He explained that this might not be the best place for a white guy on a Friday night – but not to worry. If I was friends with Rufus Jones nobody was going to bother me.

He insisted that he would drive me back to my room, and I was grateful to accept. Right before driving off he said, “just remember. Rufus Jones. If you’re ever in trouble let people know that you’re friends with Rufus Jones.”

And I have remembered.

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