Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, has announced that a portion of 25th Avenue South in front of Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium will be ceremonially renamed “Perry Wallace Way” in memory of the trailblazing Vanderbilt student-athlete who integrated Southeastern Conference varsity basketball in 1967. Wallace passed away on December 1, 2017. (See JBHE post.)
On December 2, 1967, Wallace made history when he played for Vanderbilt University in a game with Southern Methodist University. Two days later, he played in a game against Southeastern Conference rival, Auburn University. Wallace endured verbal abuse from fans and had objects thrown at him from the stands. His story is told in Andrew Maraniss’ best-selling book Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).
After graduating from Vanderbilt University and Columbia Law School, Wallace served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. Later, Wallace entered the academic world and served on the faculty of the law schools at Howard University, the University of Baltimore, and American University.