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Historic events in basketball UPDATE

Fifty years ago, 1963, the Loyola Ramblers won the NCAA basketball championship. A memorable team in more ways than one: the Ramblers, with four African-American starters, played the all-white team from Mississippi State, who fled the state and their governor, breaking the white-only rule of many Southern (and probably some Northern) teams. Loyola then went on to win the championship against Cincinnati. The civil rights movement was in high gear that year in Chicago as elsewhere (and Chicago needed it as much as any place). Today President Obama will meet with those team members and university officials to remember the great event. Here is the Chicago Tribune.

Also today, serendipitously, there is an obituary of one of the Missisipit State players who defied the govenor and played LU: "Leland Mitchell, Who Defied Racism on the Basketball Court, Dies at 72."

HT: Barry Hillenbrand

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Margaret - I'm glad the President is meeting with the Loyola players.  He should consider meeting with the Mississippis State players, too, as that must have been dicey for them to sneak out of the state at that time.

You're right! The Mississippi players have never gotten the credit they deserve for defying the governor, Ross Barnett. The respective coaches must have had a lot to do with it as well as the players. George Ireland has been given credit for recruiting those black players (some from the Bronx, some from Tennessee) all of whom graduated! A graduation rate not so true today it appears.

 “Who all else has a car?”

Ah, yes, Mississippi at it's finest :-)

Thanks AO: Are we observing his English, or his auto culture? Or both?

All of the above :-)  I love the way Mississippians talk.  "Who all" is not as common as "you all", but it's also useful.  I've been noticing that "you all" is becoming popular in other parts of the country.  Why not "Who all"? I can hear Prof. Cunningham or Jim McCrea saying, "Who all has change for a dollar? 

But seriously,  folks, that young team and their coaches were heroes.

The team and their coaches were heroes. I'm sure "who all" agrees!

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