Letters to the Editor

Musical message

February 3, 2012


To the editor:

Thank you for your Jan. 30 editorial regarding the renaming of part of 11th Street for Don Fambrough. I did not know him personally, but I did enjoy watching the football teams he coached and I have no doubt he contributed to Kansas University and Lawrence in many ways. However, in recent years newspaper stories about him were largely devoted to his annual diatribes to the football team about the iniquities of Missouri. 

Last week, the musical “South Pacific” was performed at the Lied Center. One of its most moving songs is “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught,” which cries out against discrimination in lines such as “You’ve got to be carefully taught … to hate all the people your relatives hate.”  I hope that renaming part of 11th Street will not be taken as civic endorsement of that kind of teaching.


cato_the_elder 6 years, 4 months ago

“You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught" was a number in "South Pacific" that, quite courageously for its time, attempted to nudge listeners into more tolerant racial and ethnic views.

In contrast, there is nothing racial or ethnic about the Border War rivalry, unless, of course, one recalls that border ruffians from Missouri did everything they could to make Kansas a slave state; that Missouri seceded from the Union; and that slavery-supporting thugs from Missouri led by William Quantrill nearly destroyed Lawrence and cold-bloodedly killed hundreds of defenseless people in the process primarily because Lawrence was perceived as a bastion of the anti-slavery movement.

Don Fambrough was a wonderful, big-hearted man. His dislike of Missouri in all things football was highly justified given what University of Missouri representatives did to keep him and certain of his teammates from playing another year at KU after the Second World War, and the same representatives' whining conduct in 1960 in dredging up a petty infraction regarding KU football player Bert Coan (it dealt with the actions of one KU alumnus while Coan was still at TCU) in order to strong-arm a majority of Big 8 reps to declare that KU would have to forfeit its decisive win over Missouri that year. All loyal KU alumni still consider that win to have been a decisive victory, which indeed it was.

Many people from Missouri have treated Kansans badly for over 150 years. They still do. Hats off to Don Fambrough for not taking it lying down. May he rest in peace, and be spared the petty criticisms of those who wish to reserve the naming of streets only for those who are of a certain social caste. I for one am thrilled with the City Commission's action in naming a small portion of Missouri Street after him.

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