Tag Archives: Annual Changing of the Guard

Maraniss on Race and Sports in the South

–submitted by Donna Hurd; photo by Mike Engelberger

Andrew MaranissAndrew Maraniss, son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss and trailblazing environmentalist Linda Maraniss, and native of Madison, presented a depiction of sports pioneering through the eyes of the first African-American basketball player to join the historically all white Southeastern Conference in college basketball, Perry Wallace.

The biography,  Strong Inside, chronicles the journey of a young athlete who with trepidation, but with great hope, accepted the invitation to join Vanderbilt University men’s basketball team in 1970.  During a time when many southern, college-bound African-American athletes headed north to play for teams that recognized their talent and championship prospects, Wallace took a chance, while knowing the obstacles he faced and stayed at home in Nashville.  Maraniss tells a story of great courage amidst what may have been insurmountable adversity for some.

Wallace tells of the indignations endured during this time; racist taunts, physical affronts and unsportsmanlike cheers upon leaving the game injured.  He still endured.  He felt that people can be treated in three ways: 1) well, 2) poorly or 3) not at all; he experienced all three.  While Vanderbilt’s Chancellor and Chaplain were encouraging and accepting, his student colleagues were not as accommodating.  Persistent isolation outside of the home basketball court, in classes and even in a place of worship, Wallace did not give up or out.  While that treatment was harsh and inhumane, Wallace had the most difficulty with the third type of treatment of not being treated at all.  Noting that having his humanity denied presented the harshest psychological and emotional challenge of them all.

While clearly a gifted athlete, Wallace’s academic aspirations were equally important to him.  When told not to worry about academically performing well, he refused to “trade one plantation for another.”

Upon graduation from Vanderbilt, Wallace took the opportunity to share his story with a Nashville journalist, the story which proved to be detrimental to Wallace and the newspaper, with many subscribers canceling their subscriptions and expressing their enthusiasm with his decision to leave the city.  While he understood that his remarks would not be initially welcomed, he was hopeful with the passage of time that the words would eventually resonate with people and his wish was realized when he returned to Vanderbilt to discuss the book.  After a standing room only discussion about the biography, Wallace was met with tearful regrets and apologies from many of the students who meted out some of the harsh treatment he endured.

Perry Wallace went on to become an attorney with the Justice Department and is currently a Law Professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

Maraniss interviewed Perry Wallace in 1989 for a black history class he was enrolled in at Vanderbilt.  Strong Inside, Maraniss’ first book, was the first sports related book to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Tears & Laughter: The Changing of the Guard

DSCF2341In relinquishing the gavel, President Renee Moe (’13-’14) cited many of our club’s accomplishments among which were moving up to 5th largest Rotary Club in the world and the Foundation’s Endowment breaking the $10 million amount.  She thanked her parents who were present, her fellow workers at United Way, the Rotary office staff and her family, especially her husband, Jason.  All of this with her usual modesty.  (CLICK HERE to read her thank you to the club.)

President Renee concluded by saying to us what her parents taught her as a little girl, “Thank you for inviting me. I had a wonderful time.”  All of this, of course, accompanied by tears.

DSC_0068Tim Stadelman took the gavel as our new president (’14-‘15) and after gaining control of his tears presented Renee with her past president’s pin.  Then past presidents Wes Sparkman, Juli Aulik and Paul Riehemann moved us to laughter as they presented related benefits of becoming a past president.

DSCF2379  DSCF2392  DSCF2382
(Pictured above from left in Photo 1: Monique Scher, Mike (“Cafe Renee”)  Bress & Bill Haight.  Mike Casey served as chef at Cafe Renee.)

DSCF2370  photo3 6 25 14  DSC_0090

(Photo 1: Charles Tubbs, Sr. & Renee Moe; Photo 2: Renee Moe & Cartoonist Phil Hands; Photo 3: Front row from left: Al Ripp, Stan Kitson, Jason Beren, Barb Wiley and Laura Gallagher; Back row from left: Dan Larson, Kris Ashe and Phil Hands.)

Finally, the new members’ Roast Committee introduced us to “Café Renee” after Chief Charles Tubbs, Sr. served her with a bench warrant for her arrest with the chief complaint being “excessive modesty.” The “Café” motif was that of running on time and using strategic planning.

DSC_0087  DSC_0088  DSC_0089
(Photo 1: Ellsworth Brown & Juli Aulik; Photo 2: Paul Riehemann & Wes Sparkman; Photo 3: Tim Stadelman & Renee Moe)

One of the diners was Jason Salus, Renee’s husband, who shared his view of the past year.  It was so successful the committee concluded that he would be invited back for President Tim’s Roast.

DSC_0077  DSC_0063  DSC_0049
(Photo 1: Renee Moe & Pat Jenkins; Photo 2: Mike Kosolcharoen & Renee Moe; Photo 3: Mike Bress, Renee Moe & Andrea Kaminski)

Words cannot do justice to the entertainment that the Roast Committee provided us this year at the Changing of the Guard, nor the service Renee Moe has given us.

Our thanks to this year’s Roast Committee co-chaired by Kris Ashe and Stan Kitson; to Laura Gallagher of The Creative Company for video services including a “PRESS” FILM prepared for the Roast Committee; to John Bonsett-Veal and Valerie Johnson for photography and video; and to Larry Larrabee for this review article.