The book’s title comes from William Wordsworth’s 1802 tribute to the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture: “There’s not a breathing of the common wind/That will forget thee” — a wind that carried ideas spread by sailors, enslaved people and free people of color engaged in Atlantic trade.
Julius Sherrod Scott III was born on July 31, 1955, in Marshall, Texas, near the Louisiana border. His father, a Methodist minister, was president of Wiley College in Marshall (as was his grandfather) and in 1970 was named executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. Dr. Scott’s mother, Ianthia (Harrell) Scott, was a librarian.
In 1961, Scotty, as he was known, was one of two Black students who integrated the first grade at the MacGregor Elementary School in south central Houston. The white students had separate restrooms for boys and girls. Scotty and the Black girl in his class were relegated to a single separate restroom outside the school.
His parents learned about the separate facilities only when they overheard their son saying his prayers: “Thank you, God, for letting me have my own bathroom at school.”
Publicity about his parents’ protests to the school board prompted teachers to allow both Black first graders to use the indoor restrooms. After Scotty completed the second grade, the family moved to Providence, R.I., where his father became assistant chaplain at Brown University.
Dr. Scott graduated from Brown with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1977 and earned his doctorate at Duke. In addition to Professor Renne, he is survived by his mother and two brothers, David and Lamar Scott.
Dr. Scott was inspired to write his book as a teenager, he said, while watching the 1968 Olympics from Mexico City, where several athletes from the United States gave Black Power salutes, prompting him to consider their relationship and means of communication with Black athletes from Africa, the Caribbean and South America.