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Posted: February 8, 2011 11:13 p.m.

Sometimes righting a wrong takes longer than it should

In 1964, Covington residents embraced Ron Bradley and his freshly crowned state champion Newton County basketball team. Droves of Newton County residents poured out to honor him and the team on the square downtown. The team was showered with love and Bradley was presented with a brand new Plymouth station wagon. He and the Rams were on top of the world.

One year later, another local high school basketball team came oh so close to repeating what Bradley's Rams had done in '64. R.L. Cousins made it to the Georgia Interscholastic Association state final before losing and settling for the state runner-up spot. There was one problem. R.L. Cousins was a black high school and nobody in the community noticed.

When I was tasked to write about this, I was asked to do a feature story on Jimmy Wright, the head coach of that team who passed away last month and was laid to rest Wednesday. It was for this reason I started digging into this idea. And as soon as I started digging, I couldn't believe what I couldn't find.

Here at The News we have a copy of every newspaper we've printed stored in our archives. Admittedly, I've never looked into such a subject, so when I did, I quickly learned what so many who have grown up in this community have known their entire lives: The history of racial inequality in the South. There is nothing in our archives on the 1965 R.L. Cousins state runner-up team. My newspaper never covered them because they were black.

Until Thursday, I knew nothing about Jimmy Wright and the '65 R.L. Cousins team. I'm as guilty as those before me. But my guilt is not of my own making. Every day is a learning experience for me. I can tell you anything you want to know about sports in our community the past four years. Before that, I have to learn on the fly. Most of my readers understand that. And all of you know I wasn't here in 1964 or 1965. I couldn't make a difference. Had I been here, who knows? I would like to think I would have. Unfortunately, public pressure would have probably prevented me from doing what my heart told me was right. But I can do what's right now and that's give Wright and the entire R.L. Cousins team what it's deserved for more than four decades.

It's important to embrace Jimmy Wright and the 1965 R.L. Cousins basketball team. Those kids, now old men, played with as much passion as Ron's Runts. Sadly, not many outside of the black community really knew or appreciated that.

I can't eulogize Coach Wright. I can't tell you how great a coach he was or what type of man he was. I didn't know him. The same can be said about his team. I can't wax poetic about the 1965 Wolverines. I have no records to research. I can, however, do what should have been done years ago. On behalf of The Covington News, congratulations Wolverines and Coach Wright for a great 1965 season. You made Newton County proud.

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