My earliest memory is of a black man and a Confederate Flag. The man was very black and beautiful. The flag waved in celebration of his flight. The moment still sticks to my lungs. Like any four-year-old, I wanted to fly. Like many in Reagan’s America, I saw this on TV.

Start with his name. Say it out loud: Herschel Junior Walker. He sounds out of central casting for a Southern Legend. By January 1, 1981, he was a legend. On that New Year’s Day, I huddled with my parents around our TV to watch Herschel, a freshman Georgia Bulldog running back, take on Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Like many Atlantans, my parents were northern transplants, but they were hypnotized, along with the rest of South, by Herschel.

Standing six-two, two-twenty, slabbed in muscle, and quick with a disarming grin, Herschel could fly.