Southern Heritage Classic fans discuss match-up between TSU and UAPB

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 7:37 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2023 at 5:35 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For nearly 30 years, the Southern Heritage Classic was all about two teams, Tennessee State and Jackson State University.

But that long-standing rivalry has come to an end and for the first time, TSU and the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff will play for bragging rights on and off the field.

Many UAPB fans and alumni are from Memphis and say they’re thrilled to now be a part of the Southern Heritage Classic.

“It’s just a long time coming,” UAPB Alum Alexis Cole said. “I’m just so happy that we have this opportunity to just showcase our university because it’s a special place (all the HBCUs are special) but UAPB man, it’s just something about it that’s going to be kind of groundbreaking for the city.”

Cole is a 2014 UAPB graduate. The alto saxophonist has been playing since 6th grade at Cordova Middle, taking her talents to the STAX Academy.

She really tuned into her sound as a member of UAPB’s Jazz Band.

“Everybody knows at an HBCU the Jazz Band is like the premier band,” she said. “That’s where all of your really good, seasoned players play.”

The 84th MISS UAPB says, like so many of her classmates and fellow alum she’s thrilled to see her school compete on a larger stage.

“I think that the change is needed, you know the city is going through a lot of different changes so with that we need to bring new elements to the table as well,” she said. You know Jackson State is a great school, I love Jackson State, but UAPB is also special as well, I’m happy that we’re able to showcase our university in the Southern Heritage Classic as well.”

A message echoed by Darnell Walker who attended the school in the early 2000′s.

“When I found out UAPB was going [to] be in this classic, I started buying apparel after apparel after apparel because I felt like the city needed to know who UABP was.”

Walker says he’s excited for the fans to come to Memphis.

He says after years of playing in a Classic in St. Louis, he believes Memphis will support him in a major way.

“Now we can get a lot more students to come and attend our school so, this classic is a big recruiting tool. I feel like a lot of people will understand what UAPB is, and we are going to start to see an enrollment increase.”

Walker and Cole agree it’s a good time, to be a “Golden Lion.”

“They need to see us in massive numbers coming in here like an army of ants,” Walker said.

“Do not sleep on Pine Bluff at all. Because at the end of the day you know every HBCU is special but ours is going to bring something that Memphis is not even ready for,” Cole said.

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