A 1985 graduate of Alcorn State University, Alice Lewis continued the legacy of being a famed Golden Girl. Lewis was a member of the dazzling Alcorn State University Golden Girl Dance line from 1982-1985.
Founded in July of 1968, the Golden Girls, aka GGs, were the first dance line to perform as a featured squad with choreographed movements to a marching band’s live tunes. The eight original Golden Girls were Gloria Liggins-Gray, Mar Deen Boykin, Deloris Black, Pat Gibbs, Barbara Heidleberg, Paulette McClain, Josephine Washington and Margaret Bacchus. In the Fall of 1968, the Golden Girls made their national debut in Miami, Florida during the Orange Blossom Classic. During this time, no one had ever seen a female dance team perform during half time. As the young ladies took the field, a silence fell upon the crowd as these eight regal, African American females took the field. The capes were snatched off in a quick one, two motion, revealing Alcorn’s most prized possessions. As the young ladies danced to the tunes of the band, the crowd went ballistic, giving the band and the Golden Girls the approval that was needed.
“I had no idea what a Golden Girl was. The head band director at the time, Mr. Samuel Griffin, spotted me during a performance of “The Wiz” at Alcorn. I was just on stage doing what I loved to do. I was a simple tornado not the main character but just an extra in the performance. Even though I had been a majorette since the seventh grade, I had no interest in dancing in college, but I followed Mr. Griffin’s instructions to audition for the Golden Girls. Before the audition I had called my dad to come pick me up for the weekend, so I went and auditioned and simply left campus to go home. I received a phone call when I got home and was informed that I had made the team,” says Lewis.
Coming to Alcorn was a decision that Lewis did not have in her plans. With various members of her family attending other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Mississippi, Lewis did not fathom herself attending Alcorn.
She stated, “My father attended Jackson State University and my sister attended Mississippi Valley State, so I really had no interest in coming to Alcorn. I had an older sister named Gloria who was fifteen months older than me. She was a scholar athlete who participated in track, volleyball and basketball. Alcorn offered her an athletic scholarship, and she accepted the scholarship to attend Alcorn. Unfortunately, Gloria passed before she could graduate form Alcorn. She was the main reason why I attended Alcorn.”
Following in her sister Gloria’s footsteps Lewis loved her time spent at Alcorn. “I loved everything about Alcorn. If I had to relive the time spent here at Alcorn I would and I wouldn’t change a single thing about my experience. I created so many memories there as both a student and a Golden Girl. The moment I remember the most was October 29, 1983. My father would attend the majority of the football games, but my mother was not into the football games. That homecoming game she surprised me, and showed up to my game. I was marching into the stadium, and I glanced over to the sideline, and there she was standing there waiting to see me perform. I could not wave because I was in line, so I told myself that I could dance to tell her hello. That game I danced my hardest to tell my mother hello. Baby, I was dancing and shaking so hard my hat flew off my head, but that did not stop anything because I kept on dancing. It was such an honor to see my mother there supporting me,” says Lewis.
By the mid 80s the Golden Girls had developed a reputation for being an elite dance troupe and that meant no errors were to be made which meant numerous hours of practice.
With Alcorn being the first college or university to incorporate a dance line into their halftime field show, many spectators wanted to see the dazzling Golden Girls. Lewis recalls, “When we marched into Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in 1984, people where everywhere. Marching into that stadium made me feel like a celebrity. The people were in awe when we took the field. Seeing that many people in one place just can’t be put into words. It was an experience of a lifetime. There is no crowd like an HBCU crowd during the football season. It’s a totally different experience. When we heard the band play ‘Ball and Chain’, we knew it was our time to shine. The harder the crowd cheered, the harder we danced. The crowd was our influence and we fed off of their energy.”
As with Lewis and numerous other alumni Alcorn holds a special place in the hearts of many that it has serviced and nurtured. Attending Alcorn is indeed an honor and a privilege. Many memories and stories were created on the illustrious green acres of the University and no matter where you go in life, Alcorn will always be a part of you.