Outside the Lines: How Moberly Junior College Basketball Players Negotiated Social and Racial Norms of Little Dixie On and Off the Court, 1955-1967
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Moberly, located in the north central Missouri region historically known as “Little Dixie,” has deeply rooted practices concerning racial relations and its own unique history around integration. The Moberly Greyhounds basketball team won back-to-back national championships in 1954 and 1955 when they were all white, and they repeated the feat in 1966 and 1967, this time as an integrated squad. Examining this era bookended by national championships raised the following questions: What was the economic, political, social, and educational environment of Little Dixie and Moberly up through the 1960s; how did African Americans navigate the economic, political, social, and educational obstacles during their pursuit to fully participate and exhibit agency within the larger fabric of society; how did Black Greyhounds adjust to the duality of being a Black male and student athlete in a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) embedded within a white power social structure in Moberly; and how did the uniform allow them to move between prescribed societal roles? The process to discover those answers revealed how Moberly’s existing power structure used traditional community values in order to maintain hegemony over communities of color and less affluent citizens. While appearing to make large, grand gestures of racial harmony and social acceptance, the community elite simply readjusted the semantics without ever threatening to relinquish (or even share) their authority during this era. In discovering how those in power chose to represent that readjustment through its media coverage as well as its more visible junior college basketball squad, we gain insight into a community that perceived itself as integrated and inclusive. In reality, however, they ultimately failed to apply the lessons learned on the hardwood around these racial dynamics to their own social circles to create a truly integrated, welcoming, and inclusive environment for African Americans.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Clear and ever-present danger: to be Black and Missourian -- A promise for tomorrow: African Americans use education for social mobility -- The rise of the sporting nation: America at play -- Methodology -- Randolph County and the rise of the Magic City -- Inherently unequal: Moberly grapples with integration -- The Maury Johns Era: 946-1958 -- The Cotton Fitzsimmons Era: 1958-1697 -- Conclusionxxv, 372 pages
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)