September 26, 2018 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Barnard Observatory

Charles Hughes (Rhodes College), Christopher Stacey (Louisiana State University-Alexandria), and Chuck Westmoreland (Delta State University) will present on “Three Histories of Pro Wrestling in the South.” Stacey’s talk, “Rasslin’ and Race in the Mid-South and Memphis Wrestling Territories, 1959–1992,” will examine several wrestlers, including Sputnik Monroe, Rocky “Soulman” Johnson, Ernie Ladd, and the Junkyard Dog, and their impact on the history of race and race relations in the South. Wrestling promoters and bookers such as “Cowboy” Bill Watts, wishing to make a profit, capitalized on changing demographics and political climate in the South saw the benefits of pushing African American wrestlers. Stacey will argue that pro wrestling’s relationship with professional football and the changing political culture in the South also facilitated the featuring of more African American stars. Integration of southern public facilities and the civil rights movement meant that in order to preserve kayfabe, professional wrestling, too had to follow suit. Hughes will speak on “Pro Wrestling’s Hip-Hop Wars: How Racial and Regional Politics Fueled Wrestling’s 1990s Boom,” and Westmoreland will lecture on “From Big Bill to Black Saturday: Professional Wrestling and Television in the American South, 1958–1984.”