By John Smalls
Someone said that all good things would soon come to an end. Otto B. German can attest to those words. The summer of 2019 saw his retirement after 46 years of service at the College of Charleston.
The Otto B. German story goes back a long way. Otto came out of a good family from the old village of Mount Pleasant where he was raised by the only father he knew, Freddie Bryant, and his mother Ms. Elou. They were not always able to attend his games because on many occasions they were not here in the states as Bryant was in the military. The Mount Pleasant communities were always there, especially the African American communities. It was almost like they were saying to is parents, “go and serve your country, we’ll support Otto.”
He had a love for basketball and could play the sport as well as anyone else. However, do to “separate, but equal,” he could not go to the school that was just a stone’s throw from his house in the old village. The only secondary school for African Americans was Laing High School about seven miles away.
After integration Otto finally became a student at Moultrie High School and asked the coach about trying out for the team, but initially received no response. Pick up games for African American youth however, took place at the colored playground in the old village. There, Otto could play to develop his skills. There was tough love, but it was fair despite having no officials present on the court.
During segregation players from the pickup games became the ball players who transitioned to Laing High School and became stars there. For Otto, there was only Moultrie. A number of African American students who transferred to Moultrie High School faced some hard times. Many of the students who excelled at Laing were almost flunked at Moultrie. These all-around good students wanted to go back to what they called “their school” because they felt unwanted. Yet many persevered and completed their education. Otto was one of those students.
In physical education classes no one could guard or out rebound him. The coaches saw this and Otto, before the season even started, was automatically drafted on the team. He had to get himself ready, mentally, physically, as well as emotionally before he stepped on the basketball court every night. During his four years at Moultrie he was well disciplined. He never fouled out, or was ejected from the game.
After graduating from William Moultrie High School Otto went to the College of Charleston, played basketball, graduated and received a degree. He was offered a job and never left until his retirement in June 2019.
Otto persevered through the years. He took many blows, waited his turn and quietly labored on because he knew there would be players coming after him who would likely follow in his footsteps. He would not be the one to close the doors of opportunity before they were fully opened for black youth who wanted to play basketball in predominantly white schools.
He pressed on and today the name Otto B. German stands for a well-respected gentleman. He has used his platform to speak to many youth. He has done his utmost to be and look professional. This pioneer from the old village is one who has paid the price to be who he is today. Anyone who wants to be somebody—just be like Otto.
He doesn’t care about a title. To paraphrase the late great Muhammad Ali, he “floats like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Otto B. German took what was thrown at him and overcame many obstacles. His high school sweetheart Alberta, whom he married and loved dearly, went on to live with the Lord two years ago. His children and grandchildren take very good care of him.
He is a member of Friendship A.M.E. Church in the old village, where Reverend Alonzo Redic, III is the pastor. He is active in a number of organizations including the Sons of Allen, the male choir and is a mentor for youth.