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Full Court PressMississippi State University, the Press, and the Battle to Integrate College Basketball$
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Jason A. Peterson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496808202

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496808202.001.0001

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Is There Anything Wrong with Five White Boys Winning the National Championship?

Is There Anything Wrong with Five White Boys Winning the National Championship?

(p.91) Chapter 4 Is There Anything Wrong with Five White Boys Winning the National Championship?
Full Court Press

Jason A. Peterson

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Mississippi State’s third consecutive SEC championship and the onslaught of debate from Mississippi’s press surrounding the merits of integrated competition. Like its past championship seasons, the 1961-62 Bulldogs of head coach James “Babe” McCarthy were denied entry into the NCAA tournament, but support for MSU began to grow. Reporters such as Herb Phillips of the Commercial Dispatch, Billy Ray of the Vicksburg Daily News, Dick Lightsey of the Biloxi-based Daily Herald, and sports editor Lee Baker of the Hederman-owned Clarion-Ledger argued for the Bulldogs’ place in the integrated postseason and the elimination of the unwritten law, all the while stressing their own belief in segregation. From the early stages of February 1962 through March 1962, a smattering of commentary and opinions were expressed from newspapers with the majority of reporters in the Magnolia State once again retreating to the comfortable confines of silent support for the Closed Society. However, by evidence of the growing numbers of supporters in the press, journalists in Mississippi were slowly changing and social progress in athletics was soon to appear on the state’s doorstep.

Keywords:   Mississippi State, James ”Babe” McCarthy, Closed Society, Integration, Journalism

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