In 1973 the Memphis State Tigers reached the finals of the NCAA basketball tournament. Though they lost to UCLA, they inspired a civic myth. With each victory, the city’s enthusiasm ballooned, with paeans to stars Larry Finch, Ronnie Robinson, and Larry Kenon, as well as coach Gene Bartow. Politicians upheld the team as a vehicle of interracial unity, supposedly healing the scars from Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. This myth has elements of truth, as basketball provided common ground across lines of race and class. Yet it hides as much as it reveals. Success in basketball smoothed over Memphians’ anxieties about the university, the city, and the future of race relations. The story of this season thus illuminates how sports can not only foster racial progress, but also obscure racial divisions.
These Southern Studies alumni are in very different professions, with one common thread: presenting southern culture to the public, whether it is through historic preservation, working in the visual arts, showcasing the correspondence of our third president, or helping artists and arts institutions with funding.
Music of the South Symposium:Defining and Presenting Tradition in Southern Music – Wednesday, April 6, 2016 This spring’s Music of the South Symposium will investigate the creation and performance of the South’s various traditional music forms. The one-day symposium, “Defining and Presenting Traditional Music,” sponsored by the Center, Living Blues magazine, and the Blues Archive,… Read More >
Michael Pierce Gives Brown Bag Lecture This Wednesday Michael Pierce, associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas, gives this Wednesday’s Brown Bag Lecture on “The Making of Walmart America: The Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism in Arkansas, 1941-1992.” Michael Pierce is associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas. He… Read More >
This school year, grad student Chris Colbeck, working with the Southern Documentary Project, has done a series of interviews with speakers following their Brown Bag talks. Interviews have included questions about research inspiration and methods, the role of the academy in understanding public policy, and teaching James Agee and Walker Evans.