One of the subplots in my book Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming was the battle in 1969 over the use of the song "Dixie"
as the University of Arkansas' unofficial athletic anthem.
I tracked down students and faculty members involved in the
fall-long attempt to ban the distasteful song, including the law student who was shot in the leg on campus the night before
the historic Texas-Arkansas 1969 "Big Shootout" in Fayetteville.
That law student, Darrell Brown, had gone out for freshman football
in 1965, and that story is part of the book, too. Later, as a Little Rock attorney, he also ended up questioning Bill Clinton
in videotaped testimony in the White House in the Whitewater trial.
I also I also spoke with Dallas attorney Hiram McBeth (left), the walk-on Razorbacks defensive back who was essentially
appointed by the black student group to go out for football. He was on the "B" -- or JV -- team at the time and
was in the stands on Dec. 6, 1969, too, poised to act, along with other black students and trailblazing faculty members.
Black students and supporters were prepared
to storm and occupy the field if the band played "Dixie" at the game. That would have been In front of a national
television audience and an entourage in the stands that included the president of the United States and a future president
of the United States. (See if you can name the presidents and other high-profile politicos watching the game from the stands.)
The Arkansas Student Senate that week had
voted to ban the song, but the vote wasn't considered binding. Nobody knew if the band would play it or if renegade members
would defy the order from band director Richard Worthington to abide by the vote. Worthington turned out to be one of the
heroes of the story.
Yes, the book's subtitle -- Texas vs. Arkansas in Dixie's Last Stand -- had
multiple meanings. Both programs had black freshmen scholarship players in the program by then, and Texas' Julius Whittier,
who also became a Dallas attorney, is featured in HHNC, too. I learned even more about what went on that fall and
that weekend later when I was invited to Fayetteville by the Black Alumni Society to take part in a panel discussion at the
2003 Black Alumni Society's Reunion and Awards Banquet.
There, in addition to hearing the experiences of others on the
campus at the time, it also was enjoyable to meet best-selling novelist E. Lynn Harris, who told me loved HHNC and
had been the first black Razorback cheerleader. Sadly, he passed away at age 54 in 2009.
Julius Whittier as a Dallas attorney.
Black Alumni Society reunion and awards program in 2003.
The Nixon party in the seats that day in Fayetteville. There's a governor, two U.S. senators, two Congressmen
(including one future president of the United States) and a foreign policy advisor who soon would be famous.