The Crimson and Gold
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The Crimson and Gold

Football and Integration in Athens, Georgia

Title Details

Pages: 280

Illustrations: 25 b&w photos

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 09/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6698-2

List Price: $25.95

eBook

Pub Date: 09/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6699-9

List Price: $25.95

eBook

Pub Date: 09/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6700-2

List Price: $25.95

The Crimson and Gold

Football and Integration in Athens, Georgia

How the integration of a small Southern town’s football team reflected a changing era

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  • Description
  • Reviews

The Crimson and Gold is a comprehensive narrative detailing the struggle for integration in Athens, Georgia, in the context of highly competitive football as experienced by athletes, their fellow students, teachers, journalists, and school administrators at (predominantly White) Athens High School and (African American) Burney-Harris High School and eventually Clarke Central High School—formed after the two legacy schools were forced to merge. The proud sports traditions of two high schools—both adored by their respective communities—eventually become inextricably linked with the larger battle for equal rights during the tumultuous 1960s and early 1970s.

In addition to the relatively well-known stories of the University of Georgia’s integration in 1961, Mark Clegg details “Freedom of Choice” transfers in the early 1960s, desegregation of businesses like the iconic Varsity restaurant, the violence perpetrated by the local chapter of the KKK, the first athletic competitions between Burney-Harris and Athens High, the resistance by large portions of both the Black and White communities to the phasing out of their beloved schools, and the tense and often violent first several years of Clarke Central’s existence. Finally, Clegg recounts the Athens High football team’s remarkable state title run—in its last year of existence in 1969.

Clegg conducted extensive interviews with a number of Black and White Athenians who lived through the era, including Horace King, Richard Appleby, and Clarence Pope (Burney-Harris and Clarke Central football players who were three of the first five Black football players at UGA); former Athens mayor and Athens and Clarke Central High School football player Doc Eldridge; current DeKalb County CEO and former Georgia labor commissioner (and Burney-Harris and Clarke Central football player) Michael Thurmond; the first Black scholarship athlete at UGA and Athens High School alumnus Maxie Foster; and local writer, journalist, and publisher (Flagpole magazine) Pete McCommons.

A wonderful recent history of education, integration, small-town and university culture. So many great stories, and told through the prism of football at the two local high schools, one White and one Black, and their eventual integration. So many lessons for Athens that are probably true so many other places as well. Go Glads!

—Bertis Downs, manager, R.E.M.

I really enjoyed reading The Crimson and Gold, which has stuck with me for these last weeks as I ran through scenes in my head. I love long-form nonfiction, and the research and interviews combined with little personal touches, worked smoothly together. The football action had me on the edge of my seat—the personalities of the players came through loud and clear. The drama of desegregation and losing the identities of the individual schools was heartfelt. As a DeKalb County resident, I liked the Michael Thurmond connection a lot.

—Hal Jacobs, documentary filmmaker

These are the sometimes untold stories of America, particularly in the South, that are always illuminating and paint a picture of who we are.

—Ernie Suggs, reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A wonderfully insightful telling of a time that adolescents of this generation deserve to know about. Call me naïve, but Clegg’s exploration and explanation of the merging of Burney-Harris and Athens High were eye-openers to a Jim Crow Era that existed outside of my bubble.

—Dink NeSmith, co-owner of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc. (CNI), publisher of more than two dozen newspapers in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

About the Author/Editor

MARK CLEGG is an Atlanta native who has published two previous books: Mountain Miles: A Memoir of Section Hiking the Southern Appalachian Trail and The View from Hadrian’s Wall: Two Friends Hike Along the Ancient Roman Frontier. Outside his writing, Clegg works in financial services and co-owns an antiques and collectibles business in Atlanta, Georgia.