September 16, 2016

James Siakam of Cameroon Receives Perry Wallace Courage Award

The pioneering spirit of Perry Wallace (the first African-American to play in the SEC) is alive and well at Vanderbilt, where James Siakam ’15 of Douala, Cameroon, became the first student-athlete awarded the prestigious Perry Wallace Courage Award. In a poignant meeting with award’s namesake, Siakam discussed his personal journey as a French-speaking African coming to the United States at age 15 with very raw basketball skills. He noted that, although he had to overcome difficult cultural adjustments, they had to be less challenging than those faced by Wallace in the late 1960s. Siakam capped his Commodores career with an excellent senior season (averaging 9.2 points and nearly 6 rebounds per game), despite the unexpected death of his father, Tchamo, […]
June 3, 2016

Plantation Drive-By

By Perry Wallace Once I figured out what a sordid and confused battle my attackers were waging, I was no longer afraid. “You’re not going to get this all the time! All this attention! You know that! Don’t you?” The words struck abruptly and then lingered in the air. The angry face that framed two appropriately menacing eyes belonged to one of the other winners at an award ceremony. We were all being honored for achievement, character, and public service. Character, I wanted to remind my fellow awardee. I had won in part because of my contributions as the first black varsity basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. But in addition to the award that night, I had also been […]