Roy Exum: Auburn's Homecoming Queen

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Hey! Do you hear the one about the Auburn Homecoming Queen? I know it is only natural, after years of Auburn jokes, for you to anticipate some corny punchline like, “They really had to struggle to keep her from grazing on the grass in Jordan-Hare Stadium” but to paraphrase my friend Lee Corso of ESPN College GameDay, “Not so fast, my friend … hold it right there!!” 

No, don’t you even dare – it is far better than that. Molly Ann Dutton, pretty, vibrant and very black, became Auburn University’s 100th Homecoming Queen last Saturday during halftime of the football game against Western Carolina. When she was introduced the sellout crowd at the shrine of a stadium, the War Eagle faithful roared as though their beloved Tigers had just scored a touchdown. 

Then they roared all the more when the senior from Gardendale was presented the ceremonial silver bowl from Governor Robert Bentley and university President Jay Gogue. But when her mother, an excited and joyful and very white Peggy Dutton rushed out with a hug and a kiss, there were some who watched, and wondered. As they there are wont to say, “Huh … What’s this?”

Auburn is indeed special, with a keen fervor and a shared bond between all brothers and sisters that borders on religion, but this is also the Deep South. While they smirk on “The Plains” when reports come that black girls are banned at sororities in Tuscaloosa, they still want to learn the inside story of How This Homecoming Queen Exactly Came To Be. 

Gather around – the lore just got a lot richer. 

It seems just over 20 years ago – Molly Ann is 22 – her biological mother was the victim of  a vicious sexual assault in California. Young and married when the attack occurred, her husband couldn’t cope with the tragedy and told his wife she must either have an abortion or become divorced. Face it, in sexual abuse there are multiple victims and no victim should ever be judged. 

So the young mother made a decision no young mother should ever have to make and moved to far-away Alabama rather than abort the child inside of her. When she got to Alabama, a “bless-ed” soul (“bless-ed is such an Auburn word they ought to trademark it) directed her to the Lifeline Christian Services office in Birmingham where she was soon introduced to a board member named Peggy Dutton. 

The Duttons, anchors on the board, had two children of their own – and had already adopted three others – but what difference would just another make? Molly Ann became the youngest child in the family two days after she was born. Every day since she has been a joy, to say the least. (“And, oh, wait ‘til you meet the others!”) 

Molly Ann explained the Auburn way, “When you come in as a freshman, you’re exposed instantly to various campaigns for student government and such, but I never imagined I would walk that journey personally,” she told reporters this week. 

A horticulture student, Molly Ann’s campaign was first based on saving our planet, or something similar, but then she shared a better story with her closest friends, one that began with an attack in California she very obviously cannot recall.  “Everybody encouraged me to go through with this. I knew this would be an amazing opportunity to share this story. I just had no idea how big it would become.” 

So with a campaign that featured green-and yellow T-shirts proclaiming “Light Up LIFE” and literature educating young women about options that are available during crisis pregnancies, her story swept the campus as though by firestorm. “Because that resource was made available to my mother, she decided to give birth to me,” Dutton told the students, “and here I am talking to you guys 22 years later.”

Well, by Tuesday radio host Glenn Beck had called and a sea of media stories had been generated. “I never imagined — it shows how much the public wants to receive life. It has been viral. I wasn’t given this story to just share on Mondays through Fridays. It will continue to spark and glow,” she promised. 

“If you ever find yourself in a situation or have a sister or a cousin or a best friend that is in trouble … there are resources there. I am just pleased I was given the grace to carry the story … my story is the voice for the voiceless.” 

Now, did you hear the story about the Auburn Homecoming Queen? It takes 22 years to tell it … and here I am talking to you guys. 

At Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday the sellout crowd went absolutely bonkers. War Eagle! 

Royexum@aol.com
Governor Robert Bentley, left, and Auburn University president Jay Gouge, right, pose with homecoming queen Molly Anne Dutton and her mother Peggy during halftime of the football game last Saturday.
Governor Robert Bentley, left, and Auburn University president Jay Gouge, right, pose with homecoming queen Molly Anne Dutton and her mother Peggy during halftime of the football game last Saturday.
- Photo2 by UA

Roy Exum: The Facebook Starlet

The Pants Store, a toney women’s boutique in Birmingham’s Mountain Book community, held its annual Holiday Open House about a week or so and, as usual, the popular store was full of customers and holiday cheer. It was a festive gathering, fun for all, but as store employees cleaned up for the next day, they happened across an empty designer-shoe box and a brassiere somebody had ... (click for more)

Senator David Perdue: I Have Heard Every Excuse Under The Sun - And Response

Here we go again. For the 19th consecutive year, Washington has not funded the federal government on time. As the current continuing resolution is expiring in the midnight hour, Congress is once again trying to pass a temporary fix three months after the beginning of the current fiscal year. This is ridiculous. In fact, Congress has only completed the full budget process four ... (click for more)

Tennessee Members Of Congress Urge President To Approve Federal Disaster Assistance For Tennessee Counties

Members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation on Saturday urged President Obama to quickly approve Governor Haslam’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Tennessee to help five Tennessee counties impacted by wildfires and severe weather in November rebuild and recover. “Governor Bill Haslam has submitted a request for Public Assistance and Individual ... (click for more)

Grohn Says Integrity And Ethics Lacking In Berke Administration

Mayoral candidate Larry Grohn criticized controversies and instability coming from the mayor’s administration as a sign of unethical leadership and a lack of integrity. He said, "These scandals lay out the simple fact that it is time for new leadership which is accountable to the people." Councilman Grohn’s criticism comes after the independent auditor’s release of a memorandum ... (click for more)

Cleveland Shocks Bradley To Win Cleveland Duals

CLEVELAND – There have been a lot of positive and memorable experiences for the Cleveland Blue Raider wrestling team in recent years, but they’ll have a tough time topping the one they had in their own gym Saturday. Hosting the annual Cleveland Duals and certainly a team considered one of the pre-tournament favorites, the Blue Raiders beat three of the top four teams in the state, ... (click for more)

Heights Rallies For 72-67 Victory Over Athlete Institute

Kentucky signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a team-high 26 points Saturday as Hamilton Heights rallied for a hard-fought 72-67 victory against Athlete Institute of Canada in the Buckeye Elite Showcase in Portsmouth, Ohio. The Hawks (7-2) built a 19-16 first-quarter lead, but fell behind 40-32 at halftime and still trailed 58-49 going into the fourth period at Portsmouth ... (click for more)