Dr. Dolphus Weary: From “I Ain’t Coming Back to Leading His Community

The Brotherhood Journal_Dr Dolphus Weary

Dr Dolphus Weary

As noted in his book, “I Ain’t Coming Back,” after leaving Mississippi to attend high school in California, Dr. Dolphus Weary did not plan to return to his native state to face the problems of racism, poverty and injustice that plague many communities.

In 1967, Weary was a part of the last junior graduating class of the Pine Woods Community College where he played basketball.

Alongside his teammate Jimmy, he received a scholarship to play for the L.A. Baptist College (LABC). The young teammates were under the impression that their college of choice was already integrated and left with no fears to California. He jokingly adds: “We thought every place in America was integrated except Mississippi.”

Weary and his companion were the first African American students to attend that small private college. “It was a culture shock,” he said. “We were in a city of approximately 14,000 people and it took us three months to find another black person.”

As the basketball season progressed, Weary’s team started a winning tradition on home games. The team went on to win 62 consecutive games, turning the players into campus celebrities.

“Because of that celebrity status, no one talked about race. It was not an issue to them, but it was to us,” he added.

Weary remembers the LABC’s president at that time introducing him as a basketball player and not as a student. “Even though they didn’t talk about it, we knew there were rules. The president himself told us if we tried to date a white girl he would send us home,” he added.

The Brotherhood Journal_Dr Dolphus Weary

Dr Dolphus Weary

Weary felt that more African-American students needed to be recruited to attend LABC in order to change that way of thinking. By the following year, six black students had joined the LABC student body, inlcuding his future wife Rosie.

After graduating from college, Weary went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Religion Studies and felt the desire to move back to Mississippi to be a part of a solution to the problems he was eager to run away from in his youth.

“By then, black people started to move into the neighborhoods around us and I received many invitations to take over the ledaership of budding African-American churches,” he said. “My friends told me: ‘Why are you going back to Mississippi if you can thrive here in L.A?,” said Weary. At the same time, friends in Mississippi would tell him to stay put since he was lucky enough to move up north.

But Weary chose to rely on the positive voices that told him to be a good example to young people and a community leader.

After he made his transition and became a notable speaker in the area, many people approached him throughout his engagements and told him he needed to write a book. He was reluctant for many years to do so because he didn’t think he had anything to say.

“In those days there were not many black writers, so many of us felt like black people had nothing to say,” he added.

Weary says the main motivation to finally write “I Ain’t Coming Back” was to encourage others to make a difference in their own communities. Weary believes that especially now, with an African-American president, minorities can believe in themselves much more and young people should strive to do their best to live a life that would impact others.

His message to the young black community is: “Take responsibility to do your best, no matter how bad the situation is, ask yourself what you need to do to be your best at school or wherever you go. Somebody may see you at your best and decide to help you along the way,” he said. “Don’t give up, don’t take the easy way out.”

For those seeking a career in sports or entertainment, Weary suggest developing a solid plan B that would still elevate you in case plan A doesn’t work out.

He believes that building relationships is an important part of life. When asked about social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and what they do for relationships, he expressed that while those sites are here to stay and are great tools to share information, he feels that they contribute little to nurture true friendships.

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About the Author: Nilse Gilliam is a writer and graphic designer who specializes in non-profit multi-media publications. She has a BA in journalism from Rust College and a MA in internet journalism from The University of Memphis. She is the CEO of FurtadoGilliam Media, a wife and a mom.

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