Band Director Southern Heritage Classic / Steve Jones

Southern Heritage Classic:

The Best College Football Weekend In Memphis
by Peter Short

From early September through the Holidays in December and January, one thing and one thing only dominates southern life: College Football. Though some will say it’s just a game, we know it’s so much more. College football brings us together at the office. It divides us in our houses. It gives us good reason to wear loud colors and call radio stations to rant. College football taps into a unique southern spirit, and there may be no more unique college football event in the country than the annual Southern Heritage Classic.

Running this year from September 6 - 8, 2018 the Southern Heritage Classic is one of the biggest HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) rivalry games of the year. Since 1990, upwards of 40,000 fans annually have come from Jackson State University and Tennessee State University to Memphis and Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to see their respective alma-maters battle it out for annual bragging rights. 

Since 1989, the Southern Heritage Classic started like so many great ideas, out of necessity. The two teams played each other regularly, but the geographic distance dampened attendance, especially for the visiting squad. The question then was to increase attendance and and make this great game a two-sided affair? At some point in the late 80s, a solution emerged: Host the game in Memphis, a geographically neutral location accessible to both campuses and a hotbed for both schools’ alumni. And like so many great ideas, the benefits far exceed the initial intentions. Over the past 29 years, the Classic has become more than a way to boost attendance. It’s become a celebration of HBCU’s.  

And with that celebration comes so much more than the game, which, by the way has featured future super bowl participants like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Anthony Levine and Lamar Divens.

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the can’t-miss events during Southern Heritage Classic weekend:

Throughout the weekend: 

Classic Tailgate starts at 10 a.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium parking lot and Tobey Park. Friends, Football and Food. Premium Tiger Lane, RV info and tailgating packages available.

Thursday, September 6

Classic VIP Party 5 p.m., Sheraton Memphis Downtown/Heritage Ballroom. Hosted by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
Music by Trio Plus. Invitation only.

Friday, September 7

Classic College & Career Fair 9 a.m., Pipkin Building at Tiger Lane/Fairgrounds. Presented by the City of Memphis Office of Youth Services. Regional college and university representatives will be available to provide information about attending college. For information and a list of participating schools, contact Seria Ross at (901) 636-6039 or call (901) 636-6264.
Visit online at Free admission.

Classic Coaches Luncheon presented by FedEx Noon, Sheraton Memphis Downtown/Heritage Ballroom.
A Classic salute to JSU head football coach Tony Hughes and TSU head football coach Rod Reed.
Special guest speaker: Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., President & Chief Executive Officer, Black Enterprise. Invitation only.

Classic Music Festival 8 p.m., Landers Center. Enjoy Classic performances by TANKK. MICHELLERO JAMES and MAJOR.
Tickets: $85, $75 and $55 plus services charges. All seats reserved. On sale June 1 at Landers Center Box Office or online at To charge by phone, call 1-800-745-3000.

Saturday, September 8

Classic Tailgate 8 a.m., Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium parking lot and Tobey Park. Friends, Football and Food. Premium Tiger Lane, RV and tailgating packages available. On sale June 1 online at
To charge by phone, call 1-800-745-3000. For more information, call (901) 729-4344.

Classic/NIKE Kids 3K 9 a.m., National Civil Rights Museum. Run/Walk for ages 6-14. Registration TBA.

Classic Parade 9 a.m., Presented by the Orange Mound Parade Committee as a salute to the Southern Heritage Classic. The parade route is along Park Avenue from Haynes to Airways featuring area high school marching bands.
For information, contact Claudette Boyd at (901) 413-7109 or online at

Classic Fashions & Brunch 11 a.m., Crown Plaza East, 2625 Thousand Oaks Blvd. “Glitz & Glamour” presented by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.-Memphis Chapter. Tickets: $50. For tickets and information, contact Wendy Porter Jackson at (901) 236-5303 or Katiah Brown at (901) 238-0754.

Southern Heritage Classic Football Game 6 p.m., Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. A great football rivalry featuring JACKSON STATE and TENNESSEE STATE. Tickets: $53, $38 and $23 plus service charges. All seats reserved. On sale June 1 online at To charge by phone, call 1-800-745-3000.

AutoZone Halftime Show

JSU’s Sonic Boom of the South
and TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands

Classic 5th Quarter

A grand finale for the Southern Heritage Classic football game featuring a battle of the bands.