Southern Heritage Classic founder celebrates 27 years - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Southern Heritage Classic founder celebrates 27 years

Fred Jones (Source: WMC Action News 5) Fred Jones (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Tailgaters are lined up outside the Liberty Bowl, enjoying the fun ahead of this weekend’s Southern Heritage Classic.

Tiger Lane is filled with eager fans. Of course, the big game between Tennessee State and Jackson State is the big attraction, but there are plenty of other events leading up to kickoff.

Other weekend events include a visit from the Tom Joyner Show, a college fair, and more tailgating.

The man responsible for starting the Southern Heritage Classic said he could not be more proud of what his dream has become.

“We travel all over the country to events. You see events like these Classic Games, and I say, why can't we do it in Memphis? Why can't we do this in Memphis?” Fred Jones said.

Jones is a Booker T. Washington and University of Memphis graduate. He got his start in business as a concert promoter.

“So it started from that. I wanted to show I could produce events other than music," Jones said. "Luckily, I was able to combine the sports and the music. And we were in the forefront. You look at the Super Bowl now. They name the halftime before they even know the teams playing."

Jones started the classic in 1990. Over a million people have attended the games, with countless others taking in the tailgates, concerts, luncheons, and parades.

“We had the game, we had the halftime with the bands; the tailgate came later,” Jones said. “We had everything in place; we just needed to mesh it altogether and get everybody to understand we could all co-exist during the weekend of the Southern Heritage Classic. I use the Fashion Show as an example. They came to us in the second year. They'll be celebrating their 26th year in coalition with the 100 Black Women."

Jones said his big achievement is unifying the city.

“We have unified the city. No matter who you talk to in Memphis, they know about or heard about the Southern Heritage Classic," Jones said. "Whether they come or not, they are proud of the fact we are celebrating 27 years. That's the biggest joy."

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