Alvarez College Union and Football Field

Disorienting & Reorienting (PART 1 of 3) Davidson College

Alvarez College Union and Football Field

Davidson, North Carolina 28036, United States

Created By: Sarah Mellin


Alvarez College Union and Football Field

The Alvarez College Union was originally built in 1948 to serve as the college’s Johnston gym. On football Saturdays during the 1950s and 1960s, the Confederate flag was flown alongside the other flags in the gym. Dixie, commonly understood to be the unofficial Confederate anthem, was played at football games during this time, at least once regardless of the outcome and often twice if Davidson was the winning team. It is unclear for how long the band had been playing Dixie following the Civil War, but because the band was independent of the college at this time, the administration could not require that they stop. Requests in the 1960s that Dixie be removed from the band’s repertoire were met with severe pushback from many, as outlined in several Davidsonian articles in the college’s archives; the band did not stop playing the song until 1966 or 1968 at the official request of the college (Yi and Mellin 2018).

In 1937, Davidson music professor James C. Pfohl created a halftime show for the college football games entitled “the Playful Pickaninnies.” The event included two local Black children identified as Sleepy and Jac spreading cotton on the field and then collecting it in baskets (Yi and Mellin 2018). The image of the “pickaninny” is a racist caricature of and slur for Black children that has a long history in the United States (Pilgrim 2012), and the choice of simulating cotton-picking demonstrates a clear example of plantation nostalgia. This show lasted well into the 1950s, reportedly until visiting students from Princeton objected (Yi and Mellin 2018).

This point of interest is part of the tour: Disorienting & Reorienting (PART 1 of 3) Davidson College


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