A Tale of Three Young Men
The above photo was taken in the fall of 1972. From right to left, the three young men in the forefront are Ronald Judy, Brian Herron, and myself, William Spivey. We were very sensitive about being called young men and not boys, which was often used as a term of disrespect. The event was a football game at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. Ronald and Brian attended Washburn, and I took the city bus across town to Marshall University High.
It was mostly a coincidence we were standing together. Brian and I were friends from our Black church, where his father was the pastor. Ronald was Brian's friend more than mine, though I knew him. Most likely, I had been on the Marshall-U side of the field until halftime, when I strolled over to the Washburn side to visit with friends there. Washburn won the game; we never beat the much larger school in football or much of anything else in those days.
I first saw Brian when he accompanied his family to our church. His father was one of the finalists to replace Rev. James Holloway at Zion Baptist Church in North Minneapolis. Pastor Holloway had passed away after decades of service, and the final candidates gave a trial sermon at the church before the final selection was made. Rev. Curtis Herron from Kansas City was chosen, and the next Saturday, Brian joined the youth choir, of which I was a member.
Brian was outgoing and popular, especially with the girls. I likened him to the "Son of a Preacher Man" from the song by Dusty Springfield that was popular on the radio then. Brian was confident and always the center of attention, whereas I was shy and insecure. I was jealous of Brian at first but quickly overcame that, and we became good friends. Brian lived about a mile and a half away, and it was common for me to ride my bike to his home during the summer. It was there I met Ronald Judy, one of his friends from Washburn.
Even as a young man, Ronald Judy was serious. Every Black person of my generation was coming to terms with their Blackness. We sang "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" in the choir and meant every word of it. The popular hairstyle was the Afro, and on the same day, we might be called colored, Negro, or Black, and that by other Black people. We got called different things by white…