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

New Walmart Neighborhood Market Is A Step Back For The East Brainerd Community

Driving out East Brainerd Road recently, I was excited to see that what I thought was the run down strip center being renovated was actually a new Walmart Neighborhood Market.  I believe that this is the same type facility that was proposed for Middle Valley, but was rejected by the local citizens living in that area. I don't recalling hearing anything about any neighborhood ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Funds Need To Stay Local - And Response

After reading the recent article in the Chattanoogan about the WWTA and local plumbers I think the prospect of WWTA using outside contractors would be bad for Hamilton County.   As a Hamilton County resident and taxpayer, I believe the money should stay in our local economy. The WWTA needs to find a way to work with the local plumbers to keep the funds in Hamilton County.  ... (click for more)

Muslim Advocacy Group Questions House Arrest For Signal Mountain Man Charged In Threats Against Muslim Village In New York

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, on Saturday questioned the release of a Signal Mountain man who admitted to planning what it called "a Charleston-style terror attack" on a Muslim community in New York. CAIR also called for stepped up protection for the community targeted in the plot. Judge ... (click for more)

Plumbers Bring Complaints To WWTA; Told New Contracts Are Ready

Several plumbers on Thursday brought complaints to a committee of the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) and got little response other than being told that new contracts are ready. Kay Keefe of Keefe Plumbing said the small number of plumbing companies still participating in the program to repair leaky lines to homes, have long been operating without ... (click for more)

Weather Clears. Lookouts Drop Double-Header To Barons Friday

The Chattanooga Lookouts (44-31) dropped both game one, 3-1, and game two, 6-1, of tonight's doubleheader against the Birmingham Barons (38-38) in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,371.  This was the largest crowd of the year for Chattanooga and their first sell out of 2015. The Barons improved to 6-11 overall and 4-2 on the road against the Lookouts. Birmingham pulled even ... (click for more)

TSWA Announces All-State Softball Teams

 The Tennessee Sports Writers Association has announced its all-state high school softball teams for 2015. Local selections include: AAA - Kayla Boseman (Fr), Ooltewah and Hallie Davis (Sr), Walker Valley; AA - Kaili Crawley (Fr) of Central; A - McKenna Morgan (Jr), Sale Creek; and, Division II-AA - Lauren Lewis (Sr), Kayla Hughes (Sr) and Cheyenne Lindsey (Fr) of Baylor.  ... (click for more)