A resolution recognizing Perry Wallace.

WHEREAS, Perry Wallace was the first African American varsity athlete to play under an athletic scholarship in the Southeastern Conference, playing basketball for Vanderbilt and those experiences are the subject of the book Strong Inside; and

WHEREAS, Perry Wallace attended Peal High School, in the then segregated Nashville public schools, graduated Class of 1966 and he went on to play college basketball in 1966 for Vanderbilt University and as a Vanderbilt Commodore, he broke the racial color barrier in the Southeastern Conference; and

WHEREAS, on campus he encountered the leading civil rights figures of the day, and he led Vanderbilt’s small group of black students to a meeting with the university chancellor to push for better treatment; and

WHEREAS, while at Vanderbilt he was welcomed by his teammates, but traveling was difficult, as he was often threatened from opposing teams with verbal taunts, roughness on the court, experienced a boycott from Ole Mississippi and the NCAA instituted “the Lew Alcindor rule” which deprived him of his signature move, the slam dunk; and

WHEREAS, despite this attempt to limit the influence of a rising tide of black stars, the final basket of Wallace’s college career was a cathartic and defiant dunk, and he had gone from hearing racial epithets to being voted as the university’s most popular student, but, at the risk of being labeled “ungrateful,” he spoke truth to power in describing the daily slights and abuses he had overcome; and

WHEREAS, Father Ryan High School’s basketball team faced Pearl-Cohn High School at Municipal Auditorium on January 5, 2015, commemorating the first game between them in 1965; and

WHEREAS, the game referred to as “the game that changed the South” between the two schools in 1965 was the first-ever sporting event in the South between an integrated team and an all African-American team; and

WHEREAS, members of the 1965 Pearl High Tigers were Perry Wallace, Theodore McClain, James Douglas, Walter Fisher, John Petway, Tyron Fizer, Jesse Rucker, Ervin Williams, Ronald Parham, Joseph Herbert and Ronald Thompson. The 1965 Pearl High Tigers were led under the direction of Head Coach Cornelius Ridley, Assistant Coaches Melvin Black and James Armstrong and Team Manager William Terrell; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council recognizes Perry Wallace as his participation in the 1965 basketball game of Pearl High vs. Father Ryan helped bring change and progress to Nashville which created a powerful moment that improved race relations in the southern region.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as recognizing Perry Wallace.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Clerks Office is directed to prepare a copy of this Resolution to be presented to Perry Wallace.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Edith Taylor Langster


Referred to: Rules & Confirmations Committee
Introduced: March 3, 2015
Adopted: March 3, 2015
Approved: March 4, 2015

Requests for ADA accommodation should be directed to the Metropolitan Clerk at 615/862-6770.