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U of M Student Group Will Honor Southern Heritage Classic Founder University News
For release: January 21, 2010

For press information, contact Linda Hall, 901-678-2054

Fred Jones Jr.
Fred Jones Jr.
After 20 years of promoting the Southern Heritage Classic, Fred Jones Jr. will receive the Authur S. Holmon Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Memphis Black Student Association. The award ceremony will be Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Michael D. Rose Theatre. The program will be followed by a reception in the Rose Theatre Lobby featuring music from Trio Plus. Both events are free and open to the public.

For many, Jones is synonymous with the Southern Heritage Classic, the annual football clash between Jackson State University and Tennessee State University held at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. But Jones, like the Classic he founded more than 20 years ago, is much more than just a game. The veteran Memphis concert promoter and one-time Isaac Hayes business manager has a history of making extensive contributions to the Memphis community. Beyond just growing his vision of an annual grudge match between two southern football teams into a cultural celebration, today’s Classic includes activities such as music, philanthropy, and fashion.

A native Memphian, Jones grew up in the Cleaborn Homes housing project. The 1966 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School worked during the day and went to school at night to earn his bachelor’s degree from then-Memphis State University in 1971.

Jones’ professional experiences over 40 years include associations with a roster of first-class talent, including Isaac Hayes, The Isley Brothers, Prince, Bill Cosby, The Commodores, Stevie Wonder, Parliament-Funkadelic, Luther Vandross, LL Cool J, Count Basie, Tyler Perry, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The O’Jays, Usher, and many others. He also assembled national blues and jazz tours for several international companies.

Jones is an owner/limited partner of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. Of all that he has accomplished, however, Jones considers his most fulfilling business endeavor to be the Southern Heritage Classic. “I've had a lot of fun throughout my career and I’ve had the pleasure to work with hundreds of fascinating, talented people,” Jones said. “but there is no bigger thrill for me than getting to hand Jackson State University and Tennessee State University checks every year after the Southern Heritage Classic Celebration, knowing that the money will be used by schools that really need and deserve the support.”

Jones, who started promoting the event in 1990, said it was always his goal to “create a Super Bowl kind of event where you had the football game and all these other things around the game.” Today, his annual Classic draws huge crowds, typically more than 50,000 people to the game, as well as thousands of tailgaters. The Classic generates more than $12 million annually for the Memphis economy.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1991 to honor Memphians whose lives exemplify outstanding dedication to the Memphis community and who are a constant reminder to today’s students that hard work and dedication are true keys to success. In 1996, the award was renamed the Authur S. Holmon Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of a longtime University of Memphis administrator.

The award ceremony opens the University of Memphis’ month-long celebration of Black History Month. During the ceremony, the 2010 Black History Month poster will be unveiled, along with the month’s official calendar of events.

More information is available from Linda Hall, Minority Affairs coordinator, at 901-678-2054, or online at

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