Black, white or gray

Scott-Heron was one of five black students among a class of a hundred, and in his second year he got in trouble for playing the piano. “They had a beautiful Steinway they used for the choir and the chorus, but I got caught using it to play the Temptations,” he said. “A guy came in and screamed at me to stop, and they put a sign up saying ‘Do Not Play.’ A few days later, he came in, and I’m sitting under the sign playing the piano. So they told me they were going to call my mother, and I laughed—not because I was being disrespectful, although he took it that way—but because I thought, You really don’t want to get my mother into this. But they called her and told her to come to a disciplinary meeting, and the evening before she asked me what had happened, and I told her. And she said, ‘Well, did you hit the man?,’ and I said, ‘No, I was playing the piano.’ I tried to explain that there had been no rule against it until I did it. A lot of kids had been going up there to play ‘Chopsticks,’ I said, and she asked me again, did I hit him. She had reached the conclusion that I had done something so awful that I didn’t want to describe it, because she couldn’t imagine that they had called her up there to tell her I had been playing the piano.”

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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