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“What was it like for young black men growing up in a totally segregated environment and transitioning to an integrated one?” asks author Robert Jacobus in the preface. How did they get involved in sports? How did the facilities, both academic and athletic, compare to the white schools? What colleges recruited them out of high school?

 

Searching for the answers to these and other questions, Jacobus interviewed some 250 former players, former coaches, and others who were personally involved in the racial integration of Texas public school and college athletic programs. Starting with Ben Kelly, the first African American to play for a college team in the former Confederacy when he walked on at then San Angelo College, and continuing with great players such as Miller Farr, Ken Houston, Mel Renfro, Bubba Smith, and more—many of whom went on to Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame careers in professional football—these players tell their stories in their own words.

 

Each story is as varied as the players themselves. Some strongly uphold the necessity of integration for progress in society. Others, while understanding the need for integration, nevertheless mourn the passing of their segregated schools, remembering fondly the close-knit communities forged by the difficulties faced by both students and teachers.

 

Many former student-athletes went on to successful careers as coaches and administrators at the collegiate and professional levels. Others advanced in business and industry. Joseph Searles III, who integrated Killeen High School, would go on in 1970 to become the first African American member of the New York Stock Exchange. Brady Keys, who grew up in segregated Austin, became the first African American owner of a national restaurant franchise.
Many former student-athletes went on to successful careers as coaches and administrators at the collegiate and professional levels. Others advanced in business and industry. Joseph Searles III, who integrated Killeen High School, would go on in 1970 to become the first African American member of the New York Stock Exchange. Brady Keys, who grew up in segregated Austin, became the first African American owner of a national restaurant franchise.

Black Man in the Huddle:

Stories from the Integration of Texas Football

 

 

 

Houston Cougars in the 1960s:

Death Threats, the Veer Offense, and the Game of the Century

 

 

 

On January 20th, 1968, the University of Houston Cougar basketball team upset the UCLA Bruins, ending a 47 game winning streak.  Billed as the “Game of the Century,” the defeat of the UCLA hoopsters was witnessed by 52,693 fans and a national television audience – the first-ever regular-season game broadcasted nationally.

 

But the game would never have happened if Houston coach Guy Lewis had not recruited two young black men from Louisiana in 1964: Don Chaney and Elvin Hayes.  Despite facing some resistance in Houston and also on the road in East Texas junior college gyms their freshman season, by their senior campaign of 1967-68 Chaney and Hayes led the Cougars to a 32 game winning streak and to the second of two visits to the Final Four.

 

Similarly, in Cougar football coach Bill Yeoman integrated his program in 1964 with the nation’s top recruit, running back Warren McVea of San Antonio.  Throughout his Cougar career, McVea, and later his other black teammates, integrated college football venues throughout the South.

 

Houston Cougars in the 1960s: Death Threats, the Veer Offense, and the Game of the Century, features the first-person accounts of the players, the coaches and others involved in the integration of intercollegiate athletics not just in Houston, but also in the South as a whole.  Houston Cougars in the 1960s tells the gripping story of the courageous players, visionary coaches, and the committed supporters who blazed a trail not only for athletic success but also racial equality in 1960s America.