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First, turn up the volume!

Then, from Graham: Wendell Hudson takes Alabama home

However big the crowd for that game against Florida, the first since renovations were completed, far more people followed another first at Foster nearly five decades ago. Hudson was among them, a middle schooler in Birmingham watching on television with the rest of the nation on June 11, 1963, as Vivian Malone and James Hood arrived to register for classes, the first African-American students at the state school where the sons of slave owners sought higher education little more than a century before. Instead of passing easily through the door that day, their path was blocked by Alabama Gov. George Wallace, an avowed segregationist making a symbolic stand for the old ways that kept the university all-white nine years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education ruled segregated schools unconstitutional.

Wallace’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” was, as this National Public Radio story from the 40th anniversary of the event explained, at least partly a choreographed endeavor and ended with Malone and Hood successfully registering for classes inside Foster after Wallace had his chance to publicly rail against the proceedings. Of course, few knew all that at the time, and the black-and-white photographs of Wallace defiantly obstructing Malone, Hood and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach remain some of most indelible images of the entirely real cultural conflict that unfolded in Alabama and across the South.

For a young man watching from 60 miles up the road in Birmingham, it was another crack in a crumbling wall.

From LZ Granderson: Black (and every other color) is beautiful  – The meaning found in Dr. Martin Luther King’s words and actions takes many forms

Black … is beautiful.

If reading that sentence makes you uncomfortable, then you’ve probably missed the point of Dr. King’s legacy.

If reading that sentence makes you feel superior, then you’ve definitely missed the point.

In all my years of studying the life and words of Dr. King, the one message that is abundantly clear is that you can love yourself without hating others. In fact, it’s easier to do so when you don’t.

The rest of this column are the random thoughts of an observer of race, sports and life.

I will share those thoughts with you now.

I’ve been looking for the voices of black female athletes and commentators on ESPN.com, but they’ve been hard to find. Over at espnW Adena Andrews has “Looking for answers in the house of Dr. King”

Marion Jones was on the panel (interesting choice?). Robin did some hosting, Chamique attended.

At the NVDaily, Brian Eller has Sport’s pioneers won’t be forgotten, where he writes about the amazing Althea Gibson.

From Vickie Fulkerson at The Day: For Moore, Huskies an honor to play on Martin Luther King Day and from John Altavilla at the Hartford Courant: Maya Moore On Playing Again On Martin Luther King Day

From me, a shout out to those pioneers I know about (because there are SO many I don’t know about):

Ora Mae Washington, (PA) of the Germantown Hornets, Philadelphia Tribune Girls, Savoy Colts, and Olivet Baptist Church. She rocked the basketball court (and tennis court) from the 1920’s to the 194o’s.

Institutions like Bennett College (NC). From Rita Liberti‘s article from the Journal of Sport History, “We Were Ladies, We Just Played Basketball Like Boys”: African American Womanhood and Competitive Basketball at Bennett College, 1928–1942

Bennett is a fascinating exception to the pattern of elite black colleges discontinuing basketball for women during the 1930s and, as a result, provides a unique opportunity to examine African American women’s sport history. I intend to explore the tension between a middle-class ideology, which partially supported traditional conceptualizations of gender relations, and the support Bennett gave competitive female athletic participation in basketball. Although disagreement existed within the black community concerning the propriety of female involvement in competitive basketball, Bennett College enthusiastically supported a team, becoming one of the most successful basketball programs in the nation by the mid 1930s. However, by the early years of the 1940s Bennett discontinued intercollegiate basketball, and instead focused energy and resources on intramural and play-day events. I submit that this transition not only reflected a middle-class ideology which precluded women’s participation in rigorous athletic activity, but also illustrated the multiple—and often contradictory and shifting—roles of black middle-class women during this period.

(BTW, if I recall correctly, Ora Mae and company visited Bennett — and kicked their collective butts.)

Missouri Arledge, Philander-Smith College (Ark), first black woman to play in an AAU Tournament. She was also the first black AAU All-American (1955).

Colleen Bowser, Raytown Piperettes, (Mo.) and Marian E. Washington, West Chester State University ( Pa.), first black women to play for the US in International competition (6th Women’s World Championiships, Sao Paulo Brazil, 1971). Many know Coach Washington’s resume is littered with “firsts.”

Lusia Harris, Delta State University, (Ms.) helped the Lady Statesmen three national titles (’75, ’76, ’77). Oh, and she scored the first-ever basket in Olympic women’s basketball competition.

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