HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) Founder, President & CEO Demetrius Johnson, Jr., has announced that Southern Heritage Classic Founder Fred Jones, Jr., will be named and inducted into the seventh class of the Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2024. The selection will make Jones the first HBCU sports-affiliated person to be honored and inducted into the prestigious national recognition.
Memphis native, Fred Jones, Jr., began his career in entertainment as road manager with Iassc Hayes. Returning to Memphis, Jones began to booking acts such as Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Ray Charles, Count Basie, B.B. King, Sarah Vaughan, John Davidson, Tina Turner, Bill Cosby and Tyler Perry. In 1977, Jones was named national tour manager for the Isley Brothers. He spent two years with the Isleys, while continuing to bring shows to Memphis.
Emboldened by the cause to help support worthy educational institutions and encouraged by growing attendance, Fred Jones, Jr., added many activities the football game since its launch in 1990 that is now known as the Southern Heritage Classic.
“The Southern Heritage Classic became one of my favorite HBCU football classics when I discovered it back in 2015. In September 2018, the classic events became a part of the organization’s Annual HBCU Football and Recruitment Tour, and it has been bittersweet to experience how Fred Jones’s vision truly impacts the communities and the City of Memphis during Classic Weekend,” said Demetrius Johnson, Jr., HCF Founder, President & CEO. “Fred Jones and his team at SMC do a tremendous job supporting historically black colleges and universities, athletics, and provide exposure to the two participating institutions. He inspires me, and it is an honor to include him and his contributions with other prominent leaders in the space.”
The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders Award & Class is a national recognition created by the HBCU Campaign Fund that previously identified ten chancellors and presidents currently serving an HBCU or MSI who exemplify a prominent and influential role in leadership and model the characteristics of the following responsibilities in the progression of effectively moving an institution forward. This year’s recognition will include individuals in influential roles other than the chancellor and president of an institution.
The Southern Heritage Classic Cultural Celebration has become the premier sports and entertainment event in Memphis. This year’s classic game will feature the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions and the Tennessee State University Tigers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on Saturday, September 9th at 6 p.m. for the first time during the highly anticipated annual cultural celebration. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
“HCF is delighted to return its 7th Annual HBCU Football and Recruitment Tour to the Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx this year. We cannot express how thankful we are to have the classic as part of our annual tour to support its significance and commemorate a weekend in HBCU football,” Johnson continued. “I also appreciate Jones and his team for all they do for the surrounding Memphis community through various events such as the Classic College and Career Fair, Classic Parade, and Classic Football Game.”
The complete list of honorees of the Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2024 and Class will be released in early January 2024.
About the Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx
The Southern Heritage Classic, founded in 1990 by Fred Jones Jr., brings fans from across the U.S. to watch HBCU football every September at the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, TN. In 2023, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions will face off against the Tennessee State University Tigers. The greatness of the Classic rests on how it connects kindred spirits – young and old – in celebration of the beauty of cultural diversity and the richness of the city’s heritage. For more information, visit SouthernHeritageClassic.com.
About the HBCU Campaign Fund
The HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) was founded in 2012 and is a non-profit educational organization that remains a strong advocate for students and higher education. The mission of HCF is to support the significance and raise funds for scholarships, programs, and for private and public HBCUs and MSIs. For more information, visit www.hbcucampaignfund.org.