Deion Sanders and Eddie George

TVA Supports 2021 Southern Heritage Classic Cultural Weekend

“The Classic has become much more than a platform where two of our historically black colleges and universities come together in Memphis. For the two colleges, it’s created an annual economic stream that they could depend on. For Memphis, it’s been an economic powerhouse to the community.”    

- Fred Jones 

Thousands of football fans from across the nation converged on Memphis over the weekend of Sept. 10 - 12 to participate in the Southern Heritage Classic Cultural Weekend featuring concerts, parties, tailgates, fundraisers for nonprofits, and a premier college football game that has made the Classic a household name in Memphis and beyond.

The Classic was founded in 1990 by local business owner Fred Jones and has since grown to be a major sporting and social event that brings alumni and fans to Memphis on an annual pilgrimage that celebrates two historically black universities – Jackson State University and Tennessee State University - and their age-old football rivalry.

The Classic, which last year ranked 4th in attendance among historically black college and university classic football games in the country, has become a driving force for revenue for Tennessee State and Jackson State. It also boosts the local Memphis economy to the tune of $21 million annually. 

TVA was proud to serve as a sponsor for the weekend to support this hallmark event's economic benefits and cultural importance for Memphis.

TVA's West Region leadership team, headquartered in Memphis, participated in events throughout the weekend. Attendees included Jeannette Mills, TVA Executive Vice President and Chief External Relations Officer; Mark Yates, West Region Vice President; Gabe Franceschi, newly selected regional Director of Government and Community Relations; and Ryan Leister, Director of Customer Relations.

“TVA was honored to be a part of the 2021 Southern Heritage Classic Cultural Weekend and to participate in the many activities that benefited worthy organizations,” said Mills. “We strive to be a good partner and neighbor in the communities we serve, and we enjoy the opportunity to build new relationships in the Memphis area.” 

On Friday, Sept. 10, TVA partnered with the City of Memphis Office of Youth Services to host the virtual Classic College and Career Fair. Employees from across TVA’s different functions spoke with more than 1,000 students about careers at TVA, internships, and other training programs available.  

“You are our future and the leaders of tomorrow,” Franceschi told students in a pre-recorded video that kicked off the Career Fair. “That’s why TVA is proud to sponsor the 2021 Classic College & Career Fair and partner with the City of Memphis on this great event.”

TVA also participated in the Classic Coaches Luncheon on Friday, an event to salute Coaches Sanders and George and honor all regional historically black colleges and universities. 

TVA was also a sponsor of the Memphis District Golf Classic, a charity event benefiting a local scholarship fund. It included a reception at the National Civil Rights Museum hosted by former NBA player, Memphian, and University of Memphis Basketball coach Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and the event itself on Saturday morning at the Tunica National Golf and Tennis Resort. "Team TVA" was represented by Mills, Yates, Franceschi, and Dominique Worthen. 

“From the career fair to the golf classic that supports scholarships, TVA was proud to be a sponsor of the Southern Heritage Classic Cultural Weekend and to engage with its many supporters,” said Yates.