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New book by two CCU faculty members revisits Conway football boycott

September 4, 2015

Coastal Carolina University faculty members Joe Oestreich and Scott Pleasant have written a book about the 1989 Conway High School football boycott that caused racial tension in Conway.

"Lines of Scrimmage: A Story of Football, Race and Redemption" was published by the University Press of Mississippi on Sept. 1.

Oestreich and Pleasant will talk about and read from their new book on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 6 p.m. in the Johnson Auditorium of the Wall College of Business. A reception and book signing will follow.

The story behind "Lines of Scrimmage" begins over 25 years ago at a Conway High School football game in Conway. With returning starter Carlos Hunt as quarterback and having finished with an 8-4 record the previous year, the Conway Tigers had realistic hopes of winning their first state championship.

But during spring practice, Coach Chuck Jordan (who is white) benched Hunt (who is black) in favor of Mickey Wilson, an inexperienced white player. Interpreting this as racially motivated, 31 of the team's 37 black players -- under the guidance of H. H. Singleton, pastor of Cherry Hill Missionary Baptist Church and president of the local NAACP -- boycotted the team in protest.

The season-long strike severed the town along racial lines and led to protests that were about more than football when Singleton was suspended by the school system for his role in the boycott.

"We wanted to tell a football story set in a time of racial discord rather than a story about a protest movement that happened to have been started by a football incident," write the authors in a note in the back of the book.

Oestreich is an associate professor of English at CCU who teaches creative writing. He is the author of "Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll." His work has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Ninth Letter, Creative Nonfiction, and The Normal School, among others.

Pleasant has been the Writing Center coordinator at CCU since 2010. Prior to that, he was a lecturer in the Department of English. His work on writing center issues has appeared in Writing Lab Newsletter and Southern Discourse, a journal published by the Southeastern Writing Center Association.