I am not writing from a standpoint of placation or appeasement…“I am keeping it 100.” – Andrew Pernell of the University of Alabama’s ‘First Five’ 

Alabama Crimson Tide: 1967 and the Undercurrents of Integration highlights significant and relevant events before the season changed, interspersed with my commentary on race—which lies at the heart of this memorialization.


“Segregation injures the soul or the mind of the segregated as well as the segregator. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority, while leaving the segregated with a false sense of inferiority.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Meet The Author: Andrew Pernell

Integration Pioneer, Author, Entrepreneur & Social Activist

Mr. Pernell was born in the basement of  the segregated Bessemer General Hospital in Bessemer, Alabama, on January 19, 1948. Mr. Pernell came of age in the ’60s during the Civil Rights Movement. He attended the segregated Robertstown Negro Elementary School in Bessemer. After completion of elementary school, Mr. Pernell was bused to the all-black Brighton High School in Brighton, Alabama, to continue his secondary education. While in high school, Mr. Pernell participated in numerous marches and sit-ins in the Birmingham (Alabama) area. Mr. Pernell excelled in both academics and football. After graduating from Brighton High School in 1966, Mr. Pernell began attending the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) in the fall of 1966. While at Alabama, Mr. Pernell and four other students became the first five black players to walk-on to the historically segregated University of Alabama football team.

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“I present, in cathartic fashion, the feelings, emotions, and hurts attendant to my early experiences. Contemporaneously with my cathartic expressions and the laying down of facts about The First Five, I provide reflexive comments on race and its absurdity as a foundation for human relations, particularly in these United States.”

Over the years, quite a few people have written about the story of The First Five. There are several versions of the integration story and there are many commentaries on those University of Alabama Crimson Tide days. To my knowledge, none of us First Five who was actually there as participants have recorded the events of the times as we experienced them. I was the only one of the first five who survived and returned after the spring A-Day game of 1967; therefore, my account of events may be more comprehensive and enriching than others’ accounts. This book, I would wager, presents the historicity of those things of which I write, more accurately than any other written account.

For high clarity as I present my experiences related to race at the University of Alabama, overt hatred and racism were not constantly on full display, but silent expressions of hatred shone through more subtly in mannerisms and practices, which hung in the atmosphere like a heavy ubiquitous fog. My experience is that hate and racism need not manifest in obvious overt ways to be real or hurtful.

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