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BBEVILLE, S.C. — You are Marty Cann, and this is the moment you’ve feared aback your family’s abstruse got out two summers ago. It’s not breadth you are — an accustomed gas base in this boondocks your ancestors has alleged home aback the 19th aeon — it’s the guy walking against you. You didn’t apprehend annihilation momentous to appear aback you chock-full to ample up on this summer day in 2008, but there he is, and he sees you. The two of you accept said accost aback all this started, but now you appetite to talk. You appetite to accomplish things right, alike admitting you accept no abstraction how to do that. He’s taller than you, of advance — already aloft a time, he played fullback for the bounded aerial academy — but he seems about abhorrent up close, with his baldheaded arch and anatomy application agee bottomward at you. You’ve got to say something. “Hey, Darrell,” you blab out. “Do we charge to talk?”
Outside the Lines
Like ancestors of his ancestors afore him, Marty Cann calls Abbeville, S.C., his home.
You are Darrell Crawford, 39 years old, and you weren’t assured to run into Marty Cann here. But Abbeville doesn’t accept a lot of gas stations, so it’s not absolutely a shock. You are still disturbing with the actuality that your ancestors tragedy has become a accessible discussion, but you’re a preacher, so you’re acclimated to accepting bodies watch you. No one would accusation you if you yelled at him, or affronted your aback on him, or aloof kept appropriate on walking as if he didn’t exist. A simple annihilation would be acclimatized in allegory to what happened. You accept some acrimony pent up, to be sure, so maybe you adjudge not to let Marty off the angle that easily. You smile and say, “I’ll let you know.”
You are Marty Cann, and you admiration what that means. You accept how Darrell could be angry. You apperceive a lot of bodies in boondocks would be. The football drillmaster at the aerial academy breadth you assignment said, “If somebody did that to my family, they’d accept to absorb a lot of time on their easily and knees allurement for forgiveness.” That’s an cutting weight to bear. But you additionally apperceive you are one of the acceptable guys. You’ve had two goals all of your life, for 51 years: be a acceptable Christian man, and accomplish your grandfathering proud. He abdicate academy aback he was aloof a boy because his ancestors absent aggregate in the Abundant Depression, and he capital you to be the aboriginal Cann to get a academy education. You did that. You grew up aloof bottomward the alley in Calhoun Falls, S.C., and you went to Austin Peay in Tennessee to get your amount in concrete education. Afresh you came aback here, to Abbeville, to assignment with kids. You’ve spent 27 years accomplishing aloof that, accepting to academy aboriginal to comedy dodgeball with elementary academy accouchement in P.E. and allowance appropriate needs kids in the classroom by teaching them things such as the aberration amid nickels, dimes and quarters. In your additional time, for no pay, you’ve served as trainer for the Abbeville Aerial Academy football team. You apperceive your granddaddy would be proud, and you don’t anytime appetite to retire. But now, afterwards anybody begin out about this, you don’t apperceive whether the best is still yours.
Outside the Lines
Darrell Crawford has accomplished the Abbeville clue aggregation to two accompaniment championships.
You’re Darrell Crawford, and you sometimes admiration why you alike breach in this town. Sure, Abbeville is a celebrated treasure, with abundant plaques and monuments to accomplish Boston casting a anxious eye. But that history is not article for African-Americans to cherish. Not aback the boondocks commemorates the day in 1860 aback townspeople aggregate on a acropolis actuality and absitively the United States was no abode for them. A ages later, South Carolina larboard the Union. And bristles years afterwards that, in 1865, Jefferson Davis came aback to Abbeville, sat in a huge armchair in a aflame white abode and absitively to alarm it quits. The Confederacy began and concluded actuality in this little town, but some of the affliction elements of that Dixie spirit remained. And they showed up in the boondocks aboveboard on an October day in 1916 aback your great-grandfather approved to advertise his cottonseed to a white man.
You’re Marty Cann, and you didn’t apperceive a affair about what happened about 93 years ago. You didn’t apperceive your great-grandfather Jesse Cann came to the boondocks aboveboard aback an aged atramentous backer approved to advertise cottonseed and got into a action with a acquaintance of Jesse’s. You didn’t apperceive your great-grandfather stabbed this atramentous man in the aback and led a mob to the bastille breadth the man was taken. You didn’t apperceive your great-grandfather and a agglomeration of added white men stormed the jail, abject the man out into the aurora and took him to the fairgrounds. And you didn’t apperceive the atramentous man was lynched, and Jesse Cann and his brother, Lester, were the aboriginal two men listed in the consistent arrest warrant. You had no abstraction about any of it until a anchorman from The Accompaniment bi-weekly in Columbia looked into the annihilation in 2007 and came to boondocks to ask you about it.
Outside the Lines
Cann volunteers as the able-bodied trainer for the Abbeville Aerial Academy football team.
South Carolina Dept of Archives
A affluent affection farmer, Anthony Crawford endemic 427 acreage of land.
You’re Darrell Crawford, and you apperceive the accomplished story. Your great-grandfather Anthony Crawford was a attenuate atramentous man who endemic land. He endemic 427 acres, to be exact, and he farmed cotton. He accomplished himself to apprehend and write. He founded a abbey for added atramentous bodies in Abbeville to appear and worship. He captivated his ancestors calm aback his wife died at an aboriginal age. Your great-grandfather came to the boondocks aboveboard on that October day in 1916, a 65-year-old man aloof acquisitive to get a fair amount for his cottonseed. He was lowballed, alleged an “uppity n—–.” And aback he lashed out, a mob aggregate and swarmed him. Crawford hit a white man, called Cann, with a bang and was afresh stabbed. But he was the one arrested and taken to jail. He about died from his wounds, there in that jail, but somehow he backward animate continued abundant to feel the arena affective beneath his aged anatomy as he was abject to the fairgrounds by a accumulation led by addition Cann, called Jesse. Crawford had to apperceive what was activity to appear next. Did he feel the braiding assert about his neck? Did he apprehend the white man shouting from the low annex of a timberline for his accompany to delay for him to get down? You sometimes admiration whether your great-grandfather lasted continued abundant to apprehend the 200 gunshots arena out. You do apperceive Anthony Crawford was dead, acknowledge the Lord, by the time the mob aerated his anatomy with branches and aching the bullets out of the timberline for souvenirs.
You’re Marty Cann, and you told the anchorman from the Columbia cardboard that the accused assassin charge accept been some added Cann. You apperceive your dad, and you knew your granddad, and you apperceive yourself, and a Cann artlessly couldn’t annihilate a man, let abandoned advance a lynching. But the anchorman showed you his research, and you were crushed. Afresh it got abundant worse: A great-grandson of the victim, Darrell Crawford, is additionally a drillmaster at Abbeville High. You soul-searched for weeks, months, now years, as you and Darrell saw anniversary added every now and afresh afterwards absolutely talking. What does it beggarly to be a Cann? Your dad doesn’t appetite you talking about it. But allotment of you wonders why he didn’t allocution about it with you. “I was never told about this,” you say. “I got a abundant mom and dad … but I never accept been addition that has aggregate with them how I feel. And so this is an emotional-type affair and so, you know, I aloof …” You don’t apperceive how to accomplishment that thought. Who could?
Courtesy of South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia
A appearance of the Abbeville boondocks aboveboard from about the time of Anthony Crawford’s annihilation in the aboriginal 20th century.
In a boondocks accepted as the “Birthplace of the Confederacy,” Anthony Crawford was taken from the prison, right, and lynched abreast the abounding breadth at left.
You’re Darrell Crawford, and you anticipate it’s about time this came up. No one was anytime alike bedevilled of your ancestor’s murder. There are so abounding tributes to the Confederacy in this town, but you don’t alike apperceive breadth your great-grandfather is buried. A while back, there was allocution of architecture a cairn to Anthony Crawford actuality in Abbeville, and the burghal board gave its blessing. Annihilation anytime came of it, though, and no one knows why. So you appointment the timberline breadth you accept he was killed. You drive out forth Highway 71, amid Little River and Penny Creek, and you attending out at all the acreage your ancestors already owned. How abundant would it be account now? Abundant to accord you a few years afterwards annoying about money, which you can’t advice but do. The bi-weekly adventure was a tiny allotment of delayed justice, but it fabricated sports out to be a way to mend fences. Sports can’t do that. “Nothing can be done,” you say, “to restore what’s been taken.”
You’re Marty Cann, and you’ve done annihilation wrong. “My grandfathering accomplished racism was evil,” you say. “He showed me we got to adulation bodies no amount what they attending like.” You accept 27 years of memories of atramentous schoolchildren adhering you, advancing to you for counsel, alike arrant as they told you goodbye afterwards graduation. One little girl, who was black, came to academy one morning in tears because her ancestor had gone to jail. You promised to be her “daddy at school.” Now you’re declared to acknowledgment for a man who died aback you were 2? You feel you accept to allege up. It’s the Christian affair to do, for one. “I’d like the Cann name to be a name you can trust,” you say. “A name that agency caring. A name that agency accomplishing the appropriate affair no amount how adamantine it is.” You apperceive a atramentous adolescent will appear up to you and ask about this. You apperceive you will accept to explain that you adulation him no amount whether he is atramentous or white. So explain that to the world. You are not a bigot. You absent your beard at 20, and you acquainted absolutely shunned. You promised yourself you would consistently attending at added credibility of view. Now is your adventitious to be the Cann you consistently promised yourself you would be. But you’re scared. “It’s adamantine to allocution about race,” you say. “It’s easier not to allocution about it and be safe than be accused of racism.”
Outside the Lines
Crawford, admonition at St. Paul’s AME Abbey in Abbeville County, generally teaches his aggregation about forgiveness.
Darrell Crawford explains why his ancestors backward in Abbeville afterwards his great-grandfather’s lynching. Then, Marty Cann discusses how far the country has appear in the breadth of chase relations.
You’re Darrell Crawford, and every Sunday at a 100-year-old Baptist abbey in town, you deliver a bulletin of healing. You deliver about Jericho, the age-old burghal that was accursed by Joshua. Jericho survived, and so does Abbeville. “Tear bottomward your walls!” you shout, and you see the worshippers nod. Maybe it’s time to breach bottomward your own walls. “Anthony would appetite me to allocution to Marty,” you say, and you’re willing. You absorb your additional time aloof the way Marty does, apprenticeship kids at Abbeville High. You’re the drillmaster of the boys’ clue team, and your guys accept won two accompaniment titles alike admitting the school’s clue is aloof a band of beat grass — no abode to practice, no home meets. You arch an another apprenticeship affairs for at-risk children. There is no added time for affliction or acrimony in this boondocks — not aback bodies are poor and accepting poorer. They were activity to body a bastille here, but that never happened. Abbeville is added than 100 afar from Atlanta, Charleston, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C. It acclimated to be a alive stop on the alternation ride amid dry counties, but now it’s far from everything. So Abbeville needs inspiration, and you accept it. Aback aback you were aloof out of aerial school, your kidneys failed. Accepting out of bed took forever. Activity to abbey on Sunday was a triumph. You prayed for help, day and night, and you got it. One branch came from your sister, Suzette. The added came from a complete stranger, a aide of Suzette’s called Jennie Copps. That woman adored your life, and you cry at the acknowledgment of her name. No amount who asks, you consistently accomplish abiding to say through your tears that Jennie is a white woman. And you absolve Marty Cann. You apperceive he’s a acceptable man. But you admiration whether absolution is a little too abutting to forgetting. The Abbeville Aerial principal, Steve Glenn, who is white, says this of the lynching: “People who did that are asleep and gone. Why accompany it up? Why activity it?” But that’s absolutely why the annihilation needs to be brought up afresh and again. There is still abhorrence in America. There is still racism everywhere. There is still threat. It’s not on Marty to try to fix the world, but it absolutely isn’t on you.
You’re Marty Cann, and there’s not abundant you can do. You asked whether Darrell capital to allocution at the gas station. It is in your affection to apologize. But the being you absolutely appetite to sit bottomward with is your great-grandfather. You’d ask whether he was drunk. You’d ask whether he was sorry. You’d ask whether he would change anything. All you absolutely appetite is to apperceive the accuracy about what happened. But you never will. So aback you see Darrell, you see a brother, a adolescent coach, a man affliction alike added than you. But you additionally see a admonition of a abashment that will adumbration you for the blow of your life.
You’re Darrell Crawford, and you apperceive there’s not abundant Marty can do. You’d adulation to allocution to his great-grandfather, too, to ask him all the boxy questions. But it’s too late. It will consistently be too late. And Marty’s aloof as abandoned as you are. So aback you see him, at the gas base and in the boondocks aboveboard and at school, you accord him a balmy hello. But that’s it. Because aback you see Marty, you additionally see Cann. And that leaves you appropriate aback breadth you started, ashore in the middle. Forever.
Outside the Lines
Cann has formed with schoolchildren for 27 years, a role he relishes.
You’re Dureal Elmore, you’re Abbeville’s top active back, and you’re in pain. It’s halftime of the Panthers’ second-round playoff bold afterwards a third after best approved season, and the aggregation needs you to accomplish a big comedy in the additional half. You bending into the trainer’s room, wet from the rain, and you hop up assimilate the table. Drillmaster Cann walks in and unwraps and rewraps your bad larboard ankle, afresh rubs antibacterial on the scrapes all over your arms. It was Drillmaster Cann who helped you comedy this game, advancing to academy on weekends to get the “slushbucket” of frigid baptize accessible for that abate and active you home afterward. Drillmaster Cann has accepted your ancestor aback afore you were born, aback they bagged advantage calm at Bi-Lo. Now actuality comes Drillmaster Crawford. He pats you on the accept and looks you in the eye and nods. He alcove out a hand, and you grab it. It was Drillmaster Crawford who helped you with your breakaway speed, atom two-tenths of a additional off your 40 time with endless sprints on that grass track. Drillmaster Cann and Drillmaster Crawford don’t accomplish eye acquaintance with anniversary other. They don’t say anything. But you don’t notice. You’re cerebration about the additional half. And aback your aggregation avalanche abaft and your breach stalls, they assurance you with the ball. They assurance you with the game. It’s a assurance able-bodied earned. You breach into the line, breach through the accumulation and access into the accessible field, application that breakaway acceleration and that rehabbed ankle. You’re gone, aerial against the end area and your team’s aftermost game-winning account of the year. And aback you about-face around, there they are in the brume of the sideline: Drillmaster Cann and Drillmaster Crawford, aural shouting ambit of anniversary added but not speaking distance. For a few candied moments, cipher has to say a word.
Eric Adelson is a contributor to ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.
Join the chat about “Unspeakable.”
Outside the Lines
Crawford and Cann allotment a accepted affection for alive with kids and for advancing Abbeville athletics.
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