An African-American man got a letter from a former basketball teammate, whom he last played with 56 years ago, apologizing for being racist.
Eugene Britton Carter, who is now 72 years old, got a letter from Tom Owens, a white ex-teammate, expressing regret something Carter had to deal with his entire life: racial discrimination.
In 1961, four black high school basketball players in Kentucky were left behind simply because of the color of their skin as their team went to play in a tournament at Georgia. Then, decades later, one of his basketball teammates, Owens, talked about the trip with his other teammates at a class reunion and said they wanted to reach out to the players and offer an apology. One of his friends tracked down Carter who received a letter apologizing for the humiliating incident of racism.
“I am probably the last person that you expected to hear or receive a letter from. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” Owens wrote in the letter. “This is something I have thought about all my life. And well, actually, it took a couple years after I got out of high school and started maturing a little bit and became an adult.”
“It's never too late to say I'm sorry and to apologize and also it's never too late to do the right thing,” Owens said.
“I was kind of shocked when I read it because I hadn’t seen or heard from Tom since 1961 and then wrote me a letter apologizing to me for something I almost forgot about,” said Carter, who now lives in Kokomo, Indiana.
The fact that Carter almost forgot about the incident points at how normalized racist behavior has become, so much so that the man just shrugged off what must have been a mortifying experience.
Carter immediately called Owens to let him know the incident was all but forgotten and everything was right between them. In fact, he even said he felt guilty about Owen feeling guilty.
“It bothers me a little bit he’s been carrying that weight on his shoulder for 56 years now how he really felt about it. I never knew because when they came back from Georgia as a team we went on as nothing ever happened,” Carter said.
The black man seems to have forgiven his white teammates for their snub and now hopes to get in touch with Owens who lives in South Carolina.
However, some of the netizens are not so generous.
56 years later? Save it pic.twitter.com/KoMkbxkgLP— Melanin Chronicles (@electricsoul123) August 6, 2017
he's late pic.twitter.com/y3RCO8cEva— Buck Torris (@ToraDaExplora) August 6, 2017
Death bed clarity ??— Lebo Phosha (@LadyPhosha) August 6, 2017
White guilt got the best of him. Apologize for what ? Being superior— daniel adams (@danjada) August 6, 2017
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Ivan Alvarado