I grew up in the MS Delta (where my family has dwelt since the Civil War) and was attending MSU when we beat the Tide 6–3 and ended Bear Bryant’s longest winning streak. The campus was pretty loud and proud that night. What none of us would admit was that we were still doggone proud of Bear Bryant — after all, to us, even though he was from Bama, he represented the very best the Deep South had to offer.
A year later I was in Navy boot camp, soon to see the world. I did see the world, and as time passed I learned just how much I didn’t know, how ignorant and racist my family and friends were, how ignorant and racist I’d been.
I’ve been deeply ashamed of the Deep South ever since.
Tonight, for the first time in over thirty years, I’m proud of something someone has done there. This time it’s still a head coach from Bama, but this time he’s not just better than Bear Bryant on the field, but he’s representing the very best of what the Deep South could be, if the rest of the Whites there could overcome tradition and forsake the racism that has defined Southern culture for centuries.
Thank you so very much for your article.