BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Texas Tech football players came to the Birmingham Bowl to win a football game. In the days leading up to Saturday’s showdown with South Florida, though, their bowl hosts insist the Red Raiders and the Bulls indulge in some culture and some fun.
The activities away from the field Wednesday covered both ends of the spectrum. The two teams visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute separately in the afternoon, after their practices, then came together in a more festive way for bowling and barbecue in the evening.
“You learn about the history whenever you’re in high school,” Tech receiver Cameron Batson said before the visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “To actually get to come out to the museum and see the facilities, it’ll be nice.”
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute opened in 1992 and chronicles the civil rights movement in the South in the 1950s and 1960s.
That resonates with Tech safety Vaughnte Dorsey, who grew up in Mississippi.
“Actually, it means a lot to me, to be honest,” Dorsey said. “I can’t really explain it. It means a lot to me, though, for sure.”
The museum is located in the Birmingham Civil Rights District, which includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, site of the racially motivated 1963 bombing that killed four young girls.
According to its web site, the museum has attracted 2 million visitors, from all 50 states and around the world.
The website says, “BCRI is a cultural and educational research center that promotes a comprehensive understanding and appreciation for the significance of civil rights developments in Birmingham with an increasing emphasis on the international struggle for universal human rights. BCRI is a ‘living institution’ that views the lessons of the past as crucial to understanding our heritage and defining our future.”
“It’s going to be great for us,” Dorsey said of the visit, “because a lot of times I feel like civil rights isn’t touched on as much. For our team to go in there and take the initiative to learn a little something, I think that’s a good thing.”
The subject matter was far less serious hours later as the Red Raiders and the Bulls got together in suburban Vestavia Hills for a barbecue dinner and bowling challenge. Tech won the latter by a cumulative score of 762-726.
Each side used a six-player team. Red Raiders defensive graduate assistant Skyler Cassity, safety Jah’Shawn Johnson and receiver Cameron Batson led the way with individual scores of 153, 132 and 128, respectively. Then receiver Antoine Wesley, defensive backs coach Karl Scott and offensive lineman Jacob Hines with scores of 126, 118 and 105, respectively.