Opinion Offering: ‘Champions for Change’

As we all know, the 50th anniversary of the historic Mississippi State-Loyola NCAA tournament game is being commemorated this coming season. The two teams are going to play each other in Chicago on Dec. 15, and Michigan State – which hosted that game in 1963 – will play Tuskegee that same weekend at old Jenison Field House, which hosted that historic MSU-Loyola game.

That game marked a significant turning point in the fight against segregation, and it’s been the subject of a couple of documentaries. But until now, there had not been a book written on it. In today’s opinion offering, I write about that book: “Champions for Change: How the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Their Bold Coach Defied Segregation.” It’s written by Kyle Veazey, a former MSU beat reporter and a guy I’ve known for several years.

This is an important book, and it’s important to note how this event is tied to the milestone of James Meredith enrolling at Ole Miss. As Veazey points out, that opened the door for this MSU-Loyola game to happen. The walls of segregation were crumbling, and Mississippi State essentially knocked it over.

Frankly, I think that’s pretty cool. Ole Miss and MSU, rivals in so many ways, worked together to promote major social change. They both helped Mississippi move forward.

You ought to be able to find Veazey’s book at your local bookseller and online, including his website: ChampionsforChangeBook.com.

I had Veazey on my radio show, LockeDown Corner, earlier this week. Here’s a link to the show (Veazey comes on in the second half).

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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