On December 8, 2021, Robert Khayat discussed his new book 60: A Year of Sports, Race & Politics with publisher Neil White as part of the History Is Lunch series.
In 1960, twenty-two-year-old Moss Point native Robert Khayat was an Academic All-American, All-SEC baseball player, and college football’s top-scoring kicker who was heading into an All-Pro season in the NFL. In his new book 60, Khayat tells the story of the changes brought during that year both in Mississippi and nationally.
“The 1960 Ole Miss baseball team was not allowed to participate in postseason play because our squad might have encountered an integrated team,” Khayat said. “I became more and more aware of the reach of segregation as Black Mississippians were arrested that summer for trying to use the public beaches at Biloxi, near my hometown.”
“In his new memoir 60, Khayat blends his life story with political and cultural sea changes in the year 1960. And he reveals things about himself we never guessed, from the struggles of his son-of-an-immigrant father to assimilate and succeed to the traumatic football injury that almost killed him,” wrote author Rheta Grimsley Johnson. “As he has so often in life, Robert Khayat hits the mark.”
Robert Khayat served as chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1995 to 2009. He earned his BA and JD degrees from the University of Mississippi and his LLM from Yale University. Khayat was a two-time All-SEC baseball player at the University of Mississippi and played professional football in Washington, DC, for three seasons. He received the NFL’s Lifetime Achievement award, the National Football Foundation’s Distinguished American award, and the Silver Medallion award for best memoir for The Education of a Lifetime. Khayat is a member of the Ole Miss Football Team of the Century, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the Student Hall of Fame at Ole Miss, holds an honorary membership from Phi Beta Kappa and was selected as Law Alumnus of the Year in 2014.
Neil White is the founder of Nautilus Publishing, with whom he has published and edited more than 30 books. A former newspaper editor and advertising executive, White’s essays have appeared in The Oxford American, National Geographic, and other magazines. In 2010 he was named Outstanding Author of the Year by the Southeastern Library Association for his memoir In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, which was chosen as Book of the Year by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson.