Full Court Press: Mississippi State University, the Press, and the Battle to Integrate College Basketball - Race, Rhetoric, and Media Series (Hardback)Jason A. Peterson (author)
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Mississippi State University stood at the forefront of this battle for equality in the state with the school's successful college basketball program. From 1959 through 1963, the Maroons won four Southeastern Conference basketball championships and created a dynasty in the South's preeminent college athletic conference. However, in all four title-winning seasons, the press feverishly debated the merits of a National Collegiate Athletic Association appearance for the Maroons, culminating in Mississippi State University's participation in the integrated 1963 NCAA Championship.
Full Court Press examines news articles, editorials, and columns published in Mississippi's newspapers during the eight-year existence of the gentleman's agreement that barred black participation, the challenges posed by Mississippi State University, and the subsequent integration of college basketball. While the majority of reporters opposed any effort to integrate, a segment of sports journalists, led by the charismatic Jimmie McDowell of the Jackson State Times, emerged as bold advocates for equality. Full Court Presshighlights an ideological metamorphosis within the press during the civil rights movement. The media, which had long minimized the struggle of blacks, slowly transformed into an industry that considered the plight of black Mississippians on equal footing with whites.
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 594 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
"This well-researched investigation is a welcome contribution to the ever-expanding body of scholarship documenting Mississippi's long struggle for civil rights. Studies examining the Magnolia State's closed society ethos have rarely employed popular culture as a tool for unlocking meaning in the state's long and complex struggle over black freedom. The book clearly displays that the saliency of both popular sports and the newsprint media covering them deserve equal recognition next to the state's voting booths, picket lines, and lunch counters as sights for contested meaning in Mississippi's battle over integration. With insightful analysis and carefully crafted argument, Jason Peterson reminds us that sports and their media culture have long been a window through which both Mississippi and the nation perceive their ideas about race and inclusion."
--Kevin D. Greene, co-director of the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at the University of Southern Mississippi
"The celebrity phenomena of, say, LeBron James and Stephen Curry owe their possibility to a roster of names few outside of the state of Mississippi have ever heard: Coolidge Ball, Wilbert Jordan Jr., Larry Fry, and Jerry Jenkins. These barrier breakers integrated the hardwoods of the Magnolia State against the entrenched and well-funded wishes of the state's power elites. It's a little-known story. Fortunately, Jason A. Peterson decided to tell it and to ground that story in the archives of Mississippi's many daily and weekly newspapers. The result is an important chronicle compellingly told. African American history, which is to say American history, is better off for it."
--Brian Carroll, author of The Black Press and Black Baseball, 1915-1955: A Devil's Bargain and When to Stop the Cheering? The Black Press, the Black Community, and the Integration of Professional Baseball
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