Ernie McCray: Arizona Dreaming

Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray

EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Tucson High School and University of Arizona basketball standout Ernie McCray is a legendary figure to Tucsonans and Wildcat fans. McCray, who holds the Wildcats’ scoring record with 46 points on Feb. 6, 1960, against Cal State-Los Angeles, is the first African-American basketball player to graduate from Arizona. McCray, who now resides in San Diego, earned degrees in physical education and elementary education at Arizona. He is a longtime educator, actor and activist in community affairs in the San Diego-area. He wrote a blog for before the site ceased current-events operations recently. He agreed to continue offering his opinion and insight with about Arizona Wildcats athletics. McCray also writes blogs for


(Written as the Law was Being Vetoed, but Still Worth the Time, Don’t You Know)

by Ernie McCray

Growing up in Arizona
I used to have simple dreams:
Eating in any cafe;
sitting anywhere in a movie theatre
or skating at the rink
at any time on any day;
attending any school
I could get myself to
and swimming in any pool.

I dreamed in a state
where black people like me
drove the city fathers insane
when we dared to
carry ourselves with dignity
in our constant struggle
to be free.

A change came
after a number of years had passed,
not a moment too fast.
Jim Crow was suddenly all shaken and aghast
along with his followers en masse
trapped in what, to them, was a smothering morass,
with nobody to harass,
in contrast with their past,
having run out of gas and pizzazz
and sass
like a big mouthed bass
hooked out of familiar waters
with a fisherman’s perfect cast
and their ideals were surpassed and bypassed
by a people whose task
was simply to rise out of second class
citizenship and nothing has,
in life, pleased me more
than all that funky jazz.

But this love song
wasn’t around very long
before new verses were written
wherein a populace
had trouble deciding whether or not
they could go along
with honoring a man who
brought love to our thinking:
Martin Luther King.
That got taken care of
and my heart again began to sing.

Then there came a time when loud
anti-discrimination became the thing.
SB1070 became a rallying cry
to rid the state of “illegals,”
aka aliens,
introducing racial profiling
as a lawful theme.
Then attacking all things
brown came on the scene:
Chicano studies
were attacked
and ended
and books were banned.
Arizona just can’t seem
to respect all the humanity
that beautifies our land.

And, now, with ethnic studies returned
the Grand Canyon state has taken
an unimaginable frightful stand
against gays and lesbians,
turning its madness
into cries of religious freedom,
wanting business owners
to not feel compelled to sell
their services to those whom
they see as beneath
them according to their so called spiritual beliefs
and yet another group of people
find the dreams that they seek to live free
with dignity
desperately deferred and blurred by lack of empathy
and I find myself entertaining
simple dreams once again,
wondering when
Arizona, my homeland,
resting out there upon
the firm and sacred ground of the mighty Sonoran,
will ever become at ease
with all of the universe’s humanity
breathing freedom’s air.

When will they dare
to find it in themselves to care?


Even though the governor
has vetoed a hateful bill
on this February day,
I hold close to my simple dreams
any old way
because in most cities in Arizona
it’s legal to discriminate against
and fire people who are gay.
So there’s no telling what might
come along in this state down the way.
But, I, as me and my buddies used to say,
“Hey, man, it sho nuff is true
that I ain’t got nothing else to do”
so I will be watching
my homefolks closely
until the last of my days
and, I’m hoping that amounts
to a beaucoup number of days.
Please, hear what I say.

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