By Zach Kwartler ’11
An assignment in my freshman writing seminar led me to spend the last two years teaching 11th-grade U.S. history at Holly Springs High School in the northwest corner of Mississippi. To try to make history come to life for my students, I showed them two black-and-white photographs of segregated classrooms from the 1940s. My class of 22 African-American students and one white student stared at the images with blank expressions. “That’s just like Holly Springs and Marshall Academy,” one of my students said, referring to the local public and private schools.
Everyone knows about Mississippi’s civil rights history and the progress that the state has made. In the past 50 years, Mississippi has overcome the violent integration of Ole Miss, the assassination of Medgar Evers, and the murder of three Northern civil rights activists during Freedom Summer. The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was based on the progress that Mississippi has made in the past 50 years. The Supreme Court is right. Our country has changed. But I find myself asking: “Have we changed enough?”
On the 50th anniversary of James Meredith’s integration of Ole Miss, I took my top U.S. history student to a speech by Harry Bellafonte at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude Ford Auditorium. The program started with an address from Kimberly Dandridge, the first African-American student body president in the history of Ole Miss. Then, in his keynote address, Bellafonte described driving at midnight on a pitch-black road between Greenwood and Indianola in the 1960s, trailed by a KKK-controlled police car. Bellafonte said that he knew if he went one mile over the speed limit, he would be pulled over and at best would have to pay a large fine.
(The Daily Princetonian Larry Dupraz Digital Archives)
When Gabe Lewullis ’99 has a rare block of free time during his sports medicine fellowship at New England Baptist Hospital, he often heads to the Harvard Business School gymnasium. Over the years, a group of former Ivy League basketball players who now work in Boston have established an invitation-only pick-up game at the breeding ground of Wall Street’s next top draft picks. Lewullis received his introduction to the game from Matt Henshon ’91, a practicing lawyer and captain of Princeton’s 1991 men’s basketball team.
When Lewullis gets in a game, he inevitably drifts out to the right wing of the 3-point line while on offense. Once there, he pauses for a moment in hopes of catching his defender off guard. Then, he plants his left-leg and cuts sharply to the basket. If another Princeton graduate has the ball at the top of the key, he whisks a bounce pass to the cutting Lewullis, who will likely catch the ball in stride and lay it in the hoop for two easy points. Then Lewullis prepares for what always comes next. “When they see Princeton guys playing together,” he says, “if we beat them backdoor, you know you’re going to hear about it.”
For this, Lewullis has only himself to blame.
Fifteen years ago on a mid-March night in the basketball Mecca of Indianapolis, the freshman who had started just two games since December made the backdoor cut seen around the country. His subsequent layup clinched Princeton’s 43-41 win over the defending national champion UCLA Bruins in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament. It was victory No. 525 in the storied career of retiring Tiger head coach Pete Carril. For the gray-haired man sometimes called the Yoda of college hoops, it was also his first NCAA Tournament win in 13 years. In the decade leading up to the UCLA game, Carril had developed an unwanted reputation for wearing Cinderella’s slipper for 39 minutes, only to have it fall off on the doorstep of upset immortality.
The game also sparked a vast web of interconnected stories, memories and myths that continues to grow 15 years later. But none of it would have been possible, if not for a little-remembered game played the previous Saturday on the campus of Lehigh University.
Top-ranked Todd Harrity ’13 continues to improve. "I think if I played myself from two years ago," he said, "I would beat him 3-0." (© Beverly Schaefer)
While many athletes wilt under the pressure of being ranked first in the country, sophomore Todd Harrity’s run through the college squash season has exemplified the dominance often associated with the number “one.” Harrity recently completed an undefeated team season as Princeton’s No. 1 player.
During that stretch, Harrity won all but two of his matches 3-0 and never had a match go to five games. As a result, he enters this weekend’s individual national tournament as the overwhelming favorite.
“He’s one of the two best American players at this age, ever,” senior co-captain Peter Sopher said. The other, 2006 Yale graduate Julian Illingworth, is the highest ranked American in professional squash history.
In November, Harrity traveled to the Pan-American Games in Guatemala as a member of the United States national team. While the team finished in third-place, Harrity used the experience to gain valuable insight about his game.
“[The tournament] was a big eye-opener,” Harrity said. “I learned a lot of little things about my game and technique I could improve. I think if I played myself from two years ago, I would beat him 3-0.”