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  • Writer's pictureJames B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D.

Was Race A Factor In The Montgomery Alabama Boating Brawl?


If you are from the South in particular, you know that race matters. In other words, color counts. Has it changed?


Race matters and color counts are both sensitive expressions and will give rise to hearty discussions.

If you are in a certain age group and Black, you have experienced racial challenges in your lifetime. Most will say that relations between the races have improved. No longer do we have for colored only signs and required to have seats at the back of the bus.


Finally, and at last, we have full citizenship in the United States of America with all the rights and privileges. Almost that is. We are still waiting for Congress to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021. Of course, race is a factor in the delay.


Texas A&M University did not hire a prominent scholar to lead one of their academic departments because she was African American. Can we get pass skin color? An ongoing question about leadership and race has created unwelcome tension and turmoil. Are we respected in positions

of leadership? We will have different perspectives on this issue. On August 5th , a Black man’s leadership was challenged and taken to task. Dameion Pickett is the co-captain of a riverboat

in Montgomery Alabama. His verbal instructions were not followed by a group of White boaters. They took exception to the orders and thus a brawl ensued. The video taken clearly showed Mr. Pickett being attacked. So far, 7 people have been charged in this case as two fights occurred. The police arrived and cooler heads prevailed. Had the police not arrived, a major incident could have happened.


“Police acted swiftly to detain several reckless individuals for attacking a man who was doing his job”, said Montgomery mayor Steven Reed. He is the first African American mayor in that city.

Leslie Mawhorter a witness aboard the Harriott II said, “They just didn’t think the rules applied to them. I knew something was going to go down because their attitude was just, you can’t

tell us what to do. They were going to be confrontational regardless of who you were.”

A question at the table of social justice is what would have happened had the roles been reversed? If the person in charge had been White and been attacked by a group of Black men? Would the outcome have been different? I believe it would have been different. Furthermore, if there had been the same level of physicality, would that have been a misdemeanor offense? It is my thinking that the crime would have escalated to a higher charge and possible jail time.


The community at large would have portrayed these African American men as hoodlums and men of ill repute. These are my opinions. The bar of justice is different for men who look like me. There is

no getting off easy as we are all painted with the same broad brush. So, what will happen to these unruly culprits now? I suspect they’ll pay a fine and be just fine. That’s just the way it will be.

What needs to happen is in addition to the fine, they need some mandatory classes on race relations. Maybe in them, they will learn to treat all people with dignity and respect regardless of their race.

Understanding the basic principles of fairness and humanity will help them in their later lives. A stretch goal is they could become ambassadors when it comes to race relations. At this point, their behavior has brought the wrong kind of attention to the city of Montgomery. Montgomery Alabama was once the Confederate capital. Maybe in the future, because of healing and reconciliation, they

might be known as the capital of kindness.

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