MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - City leaders and community members gathered to honor Fred Jones, the man who founded the Southern Heritage Classic, which kicks off this week.
On Monday morning, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland joined city council members Sherman Greer and Gerre Currie across from the Liberty Bowl to dedicate Fred Jones Way.
"We chose the name Fred Jones Way for a reason," said Strickland. "It's emblematic of how he's lived his life, runs his business and has made this event happen for 30 years his way."
Jones said he knew an annual football game in Memphis between Jackson State and Tennessee State would work, but convincing others was another matter.
"There was kind of skepticism," said Jones. "The biggest thing of getting started was having people believe in it, that it was going to be an event."
The Southern Heritage Classic, which is now in its 30th year, has evolved into more than a football game.
For many, it's a week-long cultural celebration, which includes a gala, concert, parade and fashion show.
The city estimates the Southern Heritage Classic has a $21 million-dollar impact on the Memphis economy.
After the dedication, family and longtime friends joined Jones for a stroll down Fred Jones Way.
“When you get that kind of support, that kind of recognition from the people in the community, then you really know that it’s really something, really something special,” said Jones.