Glory Bound: Black Athletes in a White America

By David K. Wiggins | Go to book overview

7
"The Future of College Athletics Is at Stake"
Black Athletes and Racial Turmoil on Three Predominantly White University Campuses, 1968-1972

Life on America's predominantly white university campuses between 1968 and 1972 was anything but tranquil. Boards of trustees, university presidents, provosts, deans, and administrative support personnel were faced with a myriad of problems that threatened the basic structure of higher education in this country. Socially conscious faculty members became increasingly outspoken on administrative policies, involved themselves in a number of hotly debated issues and radical movements outside the basic purview of the university community, and generally took a more active role in university decision making. Students on university campuses during this period, participating in such organizations as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), were decidedly different from many students of previous generations in openly adopting radical life-styles symbolized by long hair, tie-dyed shirts, drugs, and rock music. Perhaps most alarming to administrators on predominantly white university campuses were the demands being placed on them by black students. Sometimes in concert with sympathetic white students and faculty members, black students at institutions all across the country were pressuring administrations to hire black faculty members, include black studies in the university curriculum, help support black student organizations on campus, and make a more serious effort to recruit minority students. The pressure exerted by black students on university administrations took many forms, including sit-ins, boycotts, and occasional violence.1

One group that played a significant role in the black student revolts of the late 1960s and early 1970s were black athletes. Shedding their traditional conservative approach to racial matters, black athletes spear-

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