The Front Blog

Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Datebook: October 20 – Johnny Bright Incident 60 Years Ago

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The “Johnny Bright Incident” was a violent on-field assault against African-American college football player Johnny Bright by White American player Wilbanks Smith during a game held on October 20, 1951 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The game was significant in itself as it marked the first time that an African American athlete with a national profile and of critical importance to the success of his Drake University team had played against Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) on their home field. Bright’s injury also highlighted the racial tensions of the times and assumed notoriety when it was captured in what was later to become both a widely disseminated and eventually Pulitzer Prize winning photo sequence. The incident eventually provoked changes in NCAA football rules regarding illegal blocking, and mandated the use of more protective helmets with face guards.

It’s Thursday, October 20

Paducah’s Markethouse Theatre hosts Downtown Walking Ghost Tours tomorrow. Tours start at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 pm. $15 adults and $5 children ages 6 to 12 tickets are available at the door, online at or by calling the Box Office at 270-444-6828.

A Civil War Remembrance program of music, narration, and dramatization starts at 7:30 tonight in Performing Arts Hall of Price Doyle Fine Arts at Murray State. Music, theatre, and history faculty perform and student guest artist Gracie Wallace, fiddle, presents the striking tune, a SHOW kan Farewell.

There’s a Doggie Day Spa Saturday from 9 to 2 at Carmen Pavilion on College Farm Road across from Calloway County High School. Microchipping is $10. It costs $10 for bathing, ear cleaning and nail trimming for your pooch, who must be on a leash. The Humane Society staffs the free Lost Pet Photo Registry and make custom pet ID tags for $3.

Enjoy Brian Clardy’s all piano Café Jazz tonight at 9. Support programming like this at Thanks!

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