Ivy Black History
As we usher in Black History Month with our annual celebration, we have picked out some of the more than 150 entries on the Ivy timeline for today's feature.
February marks Black History Month and the Ivy League's Black History Month website is a celebration within a celebration. All year long we are honoring 50 years of formal Ivy League competition and within that structure, we have broken out the many stories about former African-American athletes. But to tell the story of the Ivy League's black history would be incomplete without sharing the stories that began as early as 1859. The following is merely a sampling of the timeline that will appear in full soon at ivyblackhistory.com:
1850s -- (1859) Abraham Molineaux Hewlett, an African-American, was named Harvard's first director of physical education culture.
1870s -- (1870) Dr. George Franklin Grant graduates from Harvard Dental School. Grant would later go on to invent the golf tee in 1899.
1880s -- (1880) Brown's William Edward White, who grew up in Milner, Ga., played a single game for the Providence Grays, thus becoming the first African-American to play major league baseball. White's biracial ethnicity was uncovered by researchers in 2004 and the result has spurred continuing research into his life.
1890s -- (1895) On April 21, 1895, the Penn Relay Carnival began and from its inception allowed African-Americans to participate in integrated events. It was the first major meet or organization to accept African-American entries.
1900s -- (1902) Matthew Washington Bullock was an end on the Dartmouth football team and competed on the school's track and field team from 1901-03. He was named a Walter Camp honorable mention All-American in 1903. Bullock, born to slave parents in Dabney, N.C., was the first African-American to compete in football at Dartmouth and he was the second among the Ivies. Following graduation in 1904, Bullock was named the head coach at Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts), the first African-American head coach at a predominantly white college. Bullock earned a law degree from Harvard in 1907 and coached at the high school level and Atlanta Baptist College (now Morehouse College) before turning to practice law. He practiced law in Boston until he retired in 1949.
1910s -- (1916) After several attempts to find a college where he could get a quality education and play football, Frederick 'Fritz' Pollard ended up in a Brown University football uniform. He was accepted by his teammates quickly when he scored more than 10 touchdowns in his first season. Probably the greatest player to perform for Brown, and considered as one of the greatest African-Americans to perform in the college ranks, Pollard led the Bears to the first official Rose Bowl game (1916). The 1916 team also posted an 8-1 record, which is among the University's best. Pollard, a halfback, received accolades from several national newspapers and was selected to the Walter Camp All-America team. Walter Camp said of Pollard: "He is one of the greatest runners there eyes have ever seen." In 1916, Pollard scored all three touchdowns as Brown handed Yale its lone defeat of the season. When the National Football League was organized in 1920, Fritz Pollard was one of its original stars, and was one of only two African-American players that inaugural season. He played for the Akron Pros, the Milwaukee Badgers, and the Hammond Pros and finally ended up back in Providence with the Steamrollers. Pollard became the first African-American head coach in the NFL when he became co-coach of the Akron Pros in 1921. He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in October of 1954 and the National Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Pollard also was a standout on the Brown track team. Born in Chicago on Jan. 27, 1894, Fritz died on May 11, 1986.
1920s -- (1924) Theodora Roosevelt Boyd played for the Radcliffe women's basketball team, the predecessor of the Harvard Crimson women's team. Athletic records from that time are unavailable, but Boyd played in the Conference of the Seven Sisters, which included Radcliffe, Smith, Wellesely, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Vassar, and Barnard. Following her 1927 graduation, Boyd earned a master's in 1930 and a doctorate in 1943. She went on to become a professor of French at Howard University and later chaired the Department.
1930s -- (1937) Cornell University's first African-American football player was Jerome (Brud) Holland. Holland, a native of Auburn, N.Y., was one of the most acclaimed football players in the 1930s. Two years after stepping foot onto the Big Red football field, Holland was named an All-American at the end position, becoming one of just five black players to be named All-America in the first half of the century. Holland was the second-leading votegetter for the 1937 All-America team, a remarkable achievement considering many southern newspapers wouldn't run his photo with the other 10 for fear of offending their readership. Holland became one of the nation's most distinguished educators in the 1960s as the president of the Hampton Institute in Virginia. In 1970, he was appointed the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. Holland was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and was presented the organization's highest recognition - the Distinguished American Award.
1940s -- (1944) Art Wilson, the first African-American athlete at Princeton, was a starter and key player on the Tigers' 1944-45 basketball team. Wilson, a native of Chicago, Ill., became the team captain the following season. He would become a U.S. Federal Marshal in the 1960s.
(1948) Columbia University withdrew from the Amateur Fencers League of America when the organization banned the Lions' two black fencers -- Justin Cherubin and Ted Reid. The action was taken by Coach Joe Velarde and supported by Director of Athletics Ralph Furey, who recommended that similar action be taken "whenever conditions call for the exclusion of any member of our squads." Two weeks later, the AFLA dropped its ban and adopted a policy "that there will be no discrimination in any of the tournaments which it sponsors," which included non-collegiate events. Columbia rejoined the League.
1950s -- (1952) Cornell's Meredith Gourdine, who had won IC4A titles in both the long jump and the 220-yard dash for the Big Red, took the silver medal in the long jump with a leap of 24-8 1/4 at the Helsinki Olympics.
1960s -- (1963) Penn's John Edgar Wideman, an All-Ivy honoree and All-Big 5 selection in 1963, became just the second African-American to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar and the first to do so in more than a half-century, following Harvard's Alain Locke (1907). Wideman graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1963. He was named to the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1974. He was the first author to twice receive the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, for the novels Sent for You Yesterday (1984) and Philadelphia Fire (1991). Subsequent African-American Ivy League athletes to be selected Rhodes Scholars are Wendell Mottley, Yale '65 (Track & Field); Heyward Dotson, Columbia '70 (Basketball); Willie Bogan, Dartmouth '71 (Football); Franklin Raines, Harvard '71 (Basketball); Kurt Schmoke, Yale '71 (Football & Lacrosse); Jesse Spikes, Dartmouth '72 (Track & Field); Stanlake Samkange, Harvard '82 (Fencing); Roosevelt Thompson, Yale '84 (Football); Bonnie St. John, Harvard '86 (Skiing); Michael Warren, Yale '90 (Track & Field) and Roger Arjoon, Yale '95 (Squash).
1970s -- (1975) Dartmouth's Reggie Williams became the first black wrestler named first-team All-Ivy League, but he is better known for his exploits on and off the football field. Williams, who starred for the Cinncinati Bengals from 1976 to 1989, was named as a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1987 as one of the Athletes Who Care. He had also been the first African-American to be named All-Ivy League first-team in football three times. Williams is currently the Vice President of Sports, Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
1980s -- (1987) Yale footballer Kurt Schmoke was elected the Mayor of Baltimore City on Nov. 3. He was the first African-American elected to the office of mayor of Baltimore. Schmoke, also a native of Baltimore, Md., is a 1971 graduate of Yale University and was a varsity letterwinner on the 1968 Ivy Champion squad. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and received his law degree in 1976 from Harvard Law School.
1990s -- (1999) The Ivy League celebrated its 25th year of women's championships during the 1998-99 academic year. In honor of the many women who have excelled in their sport, the League announced its Silver Anniversary Honor Roll. Twelve African-American women were named to the list for the following sports: Basketball - Rhonda Anderson '83, Cornell; Allison Feaster '98, Harvard; Auretha Fleming '84, Penn; Soccer - Melissa McBean '97, Dartmouth; Track and Field - Teri Smith '91, Brown; Teri Martin '96-C, Columbia; Heather Ruddock '88-C, Columbia; Meredith Rainey '90, Harvard; Frances Childs '88, Penn; Christelle Williams '89, Penn; Nicole Harrison '98, Princeton; Patricia Melton '82, Yale.
2000s -- (2005) On Dec. 11 Columbia named former Connecticut offensive coordinator Norries Wilson as its new head football coach, making Wilson the first black head football coach in the 50-year history of the Ivy League.
— Wesley Harris and Stephen Eschenbach