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Through The Years, African American History in Champaign County


By Mary Grace Thomas


  • 1904 Football (Roy Young)
  • 1904 Track & Field (Hiram Hanibal Wheeler)
  • 1929 Tennis (Douglas Turner)
  • 1947 Swimming (Ralph Hines)
  • 1950 Fencing (John Cameron)
  • 1957 Basketball (Mannie Jackson and Govoner Vaughn)
  • 1963 Wresting (Al McCullum)
  • 1965 Baseball (Trenton Jackson)
  • 1982 Gymnastics (Charles Lakes)
As I attempted to gather information, I began to realize how it would affect these young men. These are the things I thought of:
  1. It was their chance to get an education, display their talents and to aid in getting picked for the Pros,
  2. It becomes a means of developing self confidence, public speaking, or finding their own niche or place in life
  3. To learn team work and build character
  4. It is not all about "Hoop Dreams," or tearing down nets, or winning races, or hitting home runs, etc.
There were barriers also which they had to face, as indicated in the following article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch (date unknown):
Among the Fighting Illini, who crushed the UCLA football team 45-14, were four young Americans named Buddy Young, Paul Patterson, Ike Owens and Bert Piggott. The wing-footed Buddy roared over two touchdowns and Patterson plunged through one. Owens and Piggott by excellent playing also contributed to Illinois' dazzling conquest in the Rose Bowl. Yet not one of these four, even though his parents were tax-paying residents of Missouri, could play on the University of Missouri team. Indeed, not one of them could attend the state university and study there. For they happen to have been born with darker skins than those who set the rules for admission to Columbia.
My thanks to Shawn Wax, U of I Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, and to Mrs. James C. Wilson, wife of deceased assistant track coach of the U of I.

Photograph will be placed here . . . .

* * 1947 HOMECOMING BADGE was designed by Ike Owens, Illini football end. The badge was sold under the sponsorship of the Illinis Union by campus organizations. * *

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