In every way Jackie Robinson was an ideal candidate to break that color barrier. So was Perry Wallace and that he is willing to share his experience, after having to wait so, so long for a sympathetic audience, we owe him a great debt." Alexander Wolff
Sports was racism’s last bastion of the Jim Crowe south. Perry Wallace was not just alone amongst his peers, he had no adult to look after him. He was completely, completely alone. And people don’t know about Perry Wallace because people weren’t told about Perry Wallace. Until now." Frank Deford
There’s a direct connection between what Perry Wallace, Jackie Robinson and Bill Russell went through. And I think if it had failed at Vanderbilt in basketball, the chances are very, very good that you never would’ve seen Michael Jordan at North Carolina. So it’s important that we recognize Perry Wallace.”" Dr. Harry Edwards
Imagine the deep south, SEC Basketball, the 1960’s.
Now imagine being the first African American to play in that setting. And now, imagine no university or coaching support between you and the noisy, venomous crowds, waving confederate flags and spewing racial epithets—demonstrating their displeasure that you are even stepping onto the court.
That’s the line Perry Wallace crossed in 1966 and the challenge he faced—alone—with courage, talent, tenacity, and faith. He ultimately prevailed and our country, along with collegiate sports, took another long-overdue step forward, thanks to Perry.
Perry’s crusade continued after playing for Vanderbilt University, and today, 50 years later, his remarkable story is finally being told.
This is not just the story of a trailblazing athlete, but of civil rights, race in America, a campus in transition during the tumultuous ’60s, the mental toll of pioneering, decades of ostracism, and eventual reconciliation and healing.