Black college football culture celebrated at Southern Heritage Classic

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 10:56 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s been two years since the last Southern Heritage Classic and many tailgaters say they couldn’t be happier to be back.

If you’ve never been to a black college football game before, it’s a little different.

You don’t leave your seats during halftime. The bands play just about as big a role as the players on the field.

While the football rivalry can be intense, it still breeds a sense of family and camaraderie, no matter which tiger you’re cheering for.

“We’re all country folks, so it’s like everyone is some kin. So, you don’t meet strangers when you come to an HBCU tailgate. Everybody is family,” said Jackson State fan Michael Cox.

The Southern Heritage Classic has been the gateway to the black college football experience in Memphis for 32 years.

Memphis serves as a neutral meeting place between the two schools located in Nashville and Jackson, Mississippi.

“Memphis is a great place, the barbeque, the soul-stirring music, just the vibe that you get from here,” said ESPN commentator and Black College Live, host Tiffany Greene.

And then two passionate fan bases that travel really well, the 32nd annual Southern Heritage Classic is going to be bigger and better, especially considering the fact that everyone was anxious to get back into football stadiums,” said Tiffany Greene.

Greene has spent her fair share of football Saturdays at Historically Black Colleges and Universities but says the Southern Heritage Classic stands out this year for two big reasons.

“I think the fact that you’re not going to find another FCS game with the star power that you have with the head coaches of Deion Sanders and Eddie George, and because of that factor it’s raised to another level,” said Greene.

Hall of Famers on the sidelines is certainly stirring up the excitement and that helps, especially because some of the traditions like the Classic parade had to be canceled this year, and concerns about COVID-19 still loom in the air.

However, at the heart of what makes the Classic so special is still there.

”I’ve played a lot of football professionally in college and this being a head coach now to come to an HBCU and see all the love, the black excellence is really phenomenal,” said Tennessee State University head football coach Eddie George.

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