My name is Marshall, spelled with two lís. If you spell Marshal with one l, it means youíre a police officer.
My last name is Black. Iím named after my grandfather, not the color.
My friend John Mason is black, but Iím not. I call him by his last name because thatís what Coach does.
Mason pitches the ball real fast and I can hit a ball over the fence sometimes. Coach thinks weíre both very special.
My grandmother told me she marched for peace with Negroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she was young. People refer to Mason as black or African-American. To me, Mason is just my friend; and my mother agrees thatís the way it should be.
Many of my friends werenít allowed to play with me after I started hanging out with Mason. My friendsí parents cheer when Mason strikes out a batter, but after the game, they claim blacks should stay with their own kind.
Mason told me his grandfather was a great baseball pitcher too. Once, when his coach stopped at a restaurant, the owner refused to sell the team any hamburgers unless Masonís grandfather ate outside. That made the coach angry, and they left without eating.
McDonaldís serves Mason and me hamburgers any time. It couldnít have been a McDonaldís where Masonís grandfather stopped that summer they won the baseball championship. Mason and I, we want to win the state baseball title too.
Masonís father is the high school football coach. Mason will play football this fall, but Iíll be on the sidelines. My mother worries Iíd get hurt, however Iím allowed to try out for basketball later. Weíll still be best friends; our parents say we can visit at each otherís homes any time we want.
Mason and I have another friend we learned about from Coach. Weíre shy talking about him a whole lot. Our new friend says weíre supposed to love each other. Mason and I swore a pact to love everybody no matter how mean they are.
Masonís family wants him to be a civil rights lawyer. Iím going to work for peace too.
Marshal Marshall Black. Pretty cool, huh?
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