They were both at Milwaukee’s Boswell Book Company Monday night. Former Madison resident Andrew Maraniss, now of Nashville, Tenn., talked about the genesis, development and subject of his book, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and and Sports in the South.
Among the nearly fifty people who had come to hear him was longtime and Pulitizer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist and author of 12 books, David Maraniss. Maraniss, the elder, was once a full-time and is now a part-time Madison resident.
Inside Strong, published in December by Vanderbilt University Press, received an RFK “Special Recognition” Award last month — Maraniss was notified by Robert Kennedy’s widow Ethel Kennedy herself.
Folks in Madison will have an opportunity to hear both son and father tomorrow (Wednesday, June 24) at HotelRED, 1501 Monroe St. at 7 p.m. David Maraniss will join Andrew in conversation at an event sponsored by Mystery to Me booksellers to discuss Inside Strong.
And just who is Perry Wallace? Andrew not only acknowledges that most people don’t know. Indeed, when he asked the group at Boswell who had ever heard of him before they learned about his book, no hands went up. The same is true when he talks to high school students.
Perry Wallace was a trail blazing pioneer. He was the first American of African descent to play on a Southeast Conference basketball team. He was to college basketball in the South what Jackie Robinson was to major league baseball.
He spent his four-year college career pretty much shunned by classmates and faculty and, even though he was a member of the basketball team, he found neither support nor encouragement from his fellow players. Once he graduated, Wallace left his native Nashville and after a brief stint in professional basketball, earned a law degree at Columbia University and is now a law professor at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C.