Countering the Sanitization of Football History in the Southeastern Conference: The University of Alabama's First Five Before Integration - the Overlooked Truth


College football, especially that of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is steeped in tradition and considered a staple of the culture. The current day understanding of football in the South, its significance and its growth often overlook the socio-cultural and political factors that influenced the game, especially those related to race. Hence, the dominant narratives about the sport and its integration, like much of history, is told by those in power, often providing a skewed presentation. A just society must be paired with accurate history, and meaningful critique of those involved in the development of that society. The same can be said to be true regarding the integration of what some may arguably call the South’s sport, football. Using The University of Alabama as a case study, this paper addresses the questionable aspects of UA’s dominant football narrative regarding race and integration. The study further illustrates how one of the First Five (five young Black men who walked on to the team before it was integrated) joined forces with the UA Black Faculty and Staff Association to highlight, honor and work towards the telling of a more complete and accurate version of this history. The emotional toll of having the story of the First Five unacknowledged is discussed. Additionally, strategies and tactics used to counter the dominate narrative while speaking power to truth in collegiate sports regarding race is provided.


Cassandra Simon
Associate Professor, School of Social Work, The University of Alabama, Alabama, United States

Andrew Pernell
Owner/Manager, Management, I am involved in real estate and I am owner-operator, along with my wife, of a child care center., Ohio, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Sport Betting and eSport


Race; History, Identity, Diversity, Sociology

Digital Media


Countering The Sanitization Of Football History In The Southeastern Conference (Embed)
Countering The Sanitization Of Football History In The Southeastern Conference (Embed)