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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Untold story: High school football player who died after 1961 homecoming game injury remembered at 50th class reunion

In November of 1961, students of the predominantly black Oxford Training School, that would be renamed Central High School in 1962, paraded around Oxford square with floats to the beat of a marching band showing their school pride and purple and gold colors.

It was an exciting day. The homecoming game would be played that night, and the football team had been undefeated for four years. That record wouldn’t be broken until 1963 when the team lost to Batesville, but on that fall afternoon, the Eagles were still the reigning champions.

Annie Pearl Buford Herod, a 10th grader, got dressed for the game and called someone to pick her up. But when she got in the car, she decided not to go to homecoming and asked to be taken to her aunt’s home instead.

“For some reason, I just couldn’t go,” she said, during Central High School’s 50th class reunion, held in Oxford last weekend. “I don’t know if it was divine intervention or what, but I couldn’t go to that game. And when they called me and told me he had been hurt, I couldn’t believe it.”

She and her brother, Mose Venus Buford, were close in age and in the same 10th grade class. Mose was a member of the football team who played defensive end. He was known for his athletic skills and outgoing personality.

Unlike Chucky Mullins, an Ole Miss football player who died in 1991 from injuries sustained during a homecoming game in 1989, and Bobby Holcomb, a player who died in 1951 after a football injury whose name lives on at Oxford High School’s Bobby Holcomb Field – the story of Mose Buford’s death from injuries sustained during the OTS/CHS game remains untold in newspapers of the time and on the Internet.

But Buford’s schoolmates, who gathered together last weekend to remember the past, say it is one the most impactful memories of their high school experience during an era that included the Kennedy assassination and James Meredith’s tumultuous entry into the University of Mississippi that resulted in riots and two deaths.

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