When Will Delta State Monumentalize Lusia “Lucy” Harris?

“The Queen of Basketball” Deserves Proper Recognition on Campus


The Delta Statement

A collage of historical pictures from legendary Delta State women’s basketball teams that includes Harris. This one of the few physical pieces of memorabilia recognizing her.

Delta State is a place many successful people, some legends, have called home. One of these legends is women’s basketball icon, Lusia “Lucy” Harris.

However, despite her esteemed career, Harris’s own alma mater has seemed reluctant to properly recognize her or even memorialize her after her recent passing. The Delta Statement believes that this should be remedied.

Lusia Harris is a basketball legend and one of the sport’s greatest players of all time. She played for the United State’s first women’s Olympic team alongside other Hall-of-Fame players. Her teammates and coaches have said they considered her the best player on their team.

During her time at Delta State, Harris led the Lady Statesmen to their first national title in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Also, she was the first and only woman ever drafted by an NBA team, the New Orleans Jazz. 

Harris also won the Broderick Award, which recognizes the nation’s best female basketball player, and the Broderick Cup as the best collegiate athlete in any sport in 1977. After her career, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall-of-Fame. 

An Oscar-winning documentary about her life dubs Harris “The Queen of Basketball.” Hall-of-famer Shaquille O’Neal and three time NBA champion Steph Curry produced the film.

Harris was not only an inspiration for aspiring female athletes, but she has clearly become a national hero. 

Exclusion of Recognition

The only physical acknowledgement of Harris made by the Delta State Athletic Program and the university at large is her jersey and picture in the display case right before fans walk into the lower level of the gymnasium. The Lady Statesmen also retired her number, but there is no physical representation of this on campus.

The building in which this memorabilia is held is controversially named after former House of Representatives member Walter Sillers. In an Op-Ed for The New York Times, Ben Proudfoot revealed that Sillers is a known racist and open white supremacist.

Why is there little to no commemoration for yet another icon who gave so much to our university?

Delta State properly recognizes other prominent figures in its athletics program. For example, Delta State’s baseball field is named after the illustrious player and coach Boo Ferris. He played on the professional level, won awards and later became a successful coach for Delta State’s program. 

It’s worth noting that Harris applied for the head women’s basketball coaching opening here at Delta State. She was passed over for the job. 

Just outside of the Coliseum is a statue of the woman who coached the very team that Lusia Harris was a part of in 1975, Margaret Wade. The Lady Statemen went on to win multiple championships with Wade at the helm.

Delta State memorializes Wade, a white woman, and Ferris, a white man, for their tremendous success, but not Harris, a woman of color. Why is there little to no commemoration for yet another icon who gave so much to our university?

Looking Towards the Future

It is without question that Lusia Harris has more-than-earned university-wide recognition.

Delta State did award Harris an honorary doctorate, which she undoubtedly deserves. However, it seems obvious that we should put something on full display to represent her legacy. Harris means an enormous amount to the sport of basketball, women’s athletics and our school. 

It is without question that Lusia Harris has more-than-earned university-wide recognition. Celebrating her would pass a well-deserved nod to Harris and her family. It would also be a beneficial move for our university. 

More students, athletes and Mississippians need to learn the name of Lusia Harris. They need to know what she accomplished in her sport and she achieved for women’s athletics. Delta State’s decision to dedicate a major campus structure or to build something to recognize her would be a huge step in accomplishing this. 

After all, why wouldn’t the leaders of this university want to promote Harris? She’s a pioneer of a major national sport who was also a student athlete at our school. Renaming the Coliseum after Harris would be a chance for the University to rid itself of an extremely dark side of history that its past leaders took part in.