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60 Years of Reflection Leads to Landmark Book by UM Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat

In 1960, at the age of 22, Robert Khayat’s future could not have looked brighter. He was an academic All-American, the top kicking scorer in the NCAA, an All-SEC baseball player, and headed into an All-Pro season in the NFL.

No one could have predicted — least of all a naïve young man from Mississippi — what fate had in store for Khayat.

“60: A Year of Sports, Race & Politics,” (Nautilus, 2021) is the story of 1960, as seen through the eyes of Khayat. That seminal year — Civil Rights, professional football, and politics — changed everything for a nation, its culture, and a promising young man from Mississippi.

With unflinching candor, Khayat reveals the details of his father’s unlikely rise and fall in Mississippi politics. He contrasts the careers of Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall and Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett — two of the most high-profile targets of the Kennedy administration — and how their actions ultimately impacted Khayat’s career. And, with uncommon vulnerability, he divulges his near-death experience in Vicksburg’s Mercy Hospital and subsequent addiction to pain medication.

The book also features detailed accounts of the 1960 Ole Miss baseball team being banned from post-season play because the squad “might have” encountered an integrated team, the riots on the Mississippi Coast during a planned “wade-in” on the public beaches by Black residents of Biloxi, and a dramatic trial that took place in Oxford that forever changed the landscape of professional football.

“In his new memoir ’60,’ Khayat blends his life story with political and cultural sea changes in the year 1960,” said Rheta Grimsley Johnson, an author, journalist, and Pulitzer-Prize finalist. “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, Khayat spins an honest and compelling story without over-reaching sentiment or self-pity. As he has so often in life, Robert Khayat hits the mark.”

Jack Reed Jr., the proprietor of Reed’s Gumtree Books, wrote that ’60,’ was “Simply riveting!”

Khayat said, “I’ve had 60 years to reflect on the remarkable year that was 1960.”

And in “60: A Year of Race, Sports & Politics,” Khayat shares with readers the meaning he gleaned from 60 years of reflection, and the toll those events ultimately took on Mississippi and our country.

That rarest of luxuries afforded a writer — time — can lead to great gifts for a reader. This story is one of those.

“60: A Year of Sports, Race & Politics” went on sale Aug. 23 at bookstores everywhere.

To order, or for more information, visit RobertKhayat.com.

Staff report

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