You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you.
About eighty-five years ago they were told that they were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in everything social, separate like the fingers of the hand.
We were a small tight group, clustered together, our bare upper bodies touching and shining with anticipatory sweat; while up front the big shots were becoming increasingly excited over something we still could not see.
And like him I say, and in his words, 'To those of my race who depend upon bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is his next-door neighbor, I would say: "Cast down your bucket where you are"—cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.'
having the attention diverted especially because of anxiety
The room filled with the uproar of laughter until, no doubt, distracted by having to gulp down my blood, I made a mistake and yelled a phrase I had often seen denounced in newspaper editorials, heard debated in private.
I too had touched a white man today and I felt that it had been disastrous, and I realized then that he was the only one of us whom I knew—except perhaps a barber or a nursemaid—who could touch a white man with impunity.
having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy
Then around me everyone was singing Lead me, lead me to a rock that is higher than I. And as though the sound contained some force more imperious than the image of the scene of which it was the living connective tissue, I was pulled back to its immediacy.
And you know how he escaped and made his way across mountain and valley to that place of learning and how he persisted and worked noontimes, nights and mornings for the privilege of studying, or, as the old folk would say, of 'rubbing his head against the college wall.'
Ah, yes, those indescribably glorious days, in which the Founder was building the dream not only here in this then barren valley, but hither and yonder throughout the land, instilling the dream in the hearts of the people.
I kept trying to formulate what I would say to Dr. Bledsoe, and the boys must have turned into their building, for suddenly finding myself outside the gates of the campus and heading down the highway, I turned and ran back to the building.