Race, Sports, and Vanderbilt: 1966-1970

Photograph of Perry Wallace by Jimmy Ellis
The Tennessean
Copyright 2014

(September 23 – December 8, 2016)

The late 1960s at Vanderbilt, now fifty years in the past, remains a period that is recalled with a variety of interpretations—some accurate, some highly selective, some inaccurate—by those who lived through it. Race, Sports, and Vanderbilt: 1966–1970 highlights artifacts, photographs, texts, video, and voice—the material culture of this time on Vanderbilt’s campus and in the Nashville community. This exhibition is part of an annual partnership with the Ingram Commons Reading, in which the incoming first-year class participates over the summer. This year’s book, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South by Andrew Maraniss, tells an important story about race, athletics, and Vanderbilt University, providing the social and cultural context for Vanderbilt in the late sixties.

Using material from Vanderbilt University Library Special Collections, Vanderbilt Athletics, the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, the Nashville Public Library, and The Tennessean, among other sources, those who lived through the sixties can converse with Vanderbilt students on the civil rights movement as it engaged the Vanderbilt community then. Sports and the racial integration of SEC teams were one way this struggle came to the fore. The exhibition seeks only to provide a glimpse into this history and will concentrate on how it played out on Vanderbilt’s campus, with the goal of providing our campus community and greater Nashville the opportunity to discuss these issues anew in the gallery and at related special events.

Race, Sports, and Vanderbilt: 1966–1970 is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and is curated by Martin Rapisarda, Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Science.  This exhibition is co-sponsored by Vanderbilt Athletics; the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Vanderbilt Medical School; the College of Arts & Science, and the Ingram Commons.

Exhibition material and advice have been provided by Andrew Maraniss, Dr. Rosevelt Noble, David Williams, and Rod Williamson in Vanderbilt Athletics, Dr. George Hill, Dr. André Churchwell, Teresa Gray of Vanderbilt University Library Special Collections, Beth Odle of the Nashville Public Library, The Tennessean, and Vanderbilt’s Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center. Special thanks are extended to all of these individuals and organizations who have made this exhibition possible.

Further Reading:

The Tennessean: “‘Strong Inside’ Inspires Vanderbilt to Take a Closer Look at Race, Sports”

Art Daily: “Exhibition Examines the Era when ‘Vandy Woke Up'”