The annual Southern Heritage Classic is far more than a football game. Each year, on the Saturday morning of the game at 9 AM, the Southern Heritage Classic Parade begins from the corner of Park Avenue and Haynes Street, and proceeds along Park through Orange Mound to the Lamar-Airways Shopping Center. The parade usually includes the Jackson State University and Tennessee State University bands, along with majorettes, drill teams,drumlines, Cowboys and Steelers fan clubs, car clubs and many others. There used to be more marching bands in the parade as well, but for the last few years, the parade has conflicted with the Southern Heritage Classic Battle of the Bands in Whitehaven, so there have been fewer bands recently, but the hometown favorites, the Melrose High School Sound of the Mound Marching Band always closes out the parade. It’s always a lot of fun, family and food.
Although the annual Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis is a football game, Black college football classics are never JUST football games. It’s just as much about the pageantry and battling of the drumlines, bands and majorettes, the cameraderie and fun, good food and general good times. The Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South is consistently one of the best marching bands in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and Tennessee State’s Aristocrat of Bands is also well-known and well-regarded. In addition to the mandatory halftime show, bands from Black colleges often engage in an after-game ritual known as the “Fifth Quarter”, in which the two bands compete for crowd acclaim by playing tunes back and forth at each other after the game. Although this tradition has been somewhat restricted and shortened in recent years, it is still very much a part of the Black college football tradition.
The Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South marching band is usually the first band in the annual Southern Heritage Classic Parade in Orange Mound, and is extremely popular, as there have always been a number of Memphis musicians in that band, and many of the Memphis high school band programs are led by educators who attended Jackson State.
The Jackson State Sonic Boom of the South performs their halftime routine at their game against Southern University in Jackson MS, 9/22/12
The Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South marching band, Southern Heritage Classic Parade, Orange Mound, Memphis TN, 9/8/12
The Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South marches down Park Avenue in Orange Mound during the Southern Heritage Classic Parade, Memphis TN, 9/8/12
The Southern Heritage Classic Parade with the Sonic Boom on the way, Orange Mound, Memphis TN, 9/8/12