LARAMIE — A tribute unveiling of a plaque telling the story of the Black 14 football players highlights a 50th commemoration of the events that took place at the University of Wyoming.
The tribute unveiling of the plaque on the southeast side of War Memorial Stadium near Gate 4 will take place at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13. The event is free and open to the public. The former Cowboys also will be recognized at halftime of the UW-University of Idaho football game, which kicks off at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14. Most of the original Black 14 players have confirmed they will attend the event.
“We are thrilled to welcome the members back to campus to honor them during this 50th commemoration,” UW director of athletics Tom Burman said. “We believe this event serves multiple purposes: education, healing and learning how to move forward effectively as we support our current students and celebrate our alumni community.”
The Wyoming football program had become nationally recognized during the 1960s, going 10-1 with a win in the Sun Bowl in 1966 and finishing the season with a No. 6 ranking in the final Associated Press poll in 1967. With an experienced team in 1969, the Cowboys appeared to be a lock to dominate the Western Athletic Conference once again, setting their sights on even more national recognition.
But, the 14 UW players were dismissed from the team by head football coach Lloyd Eaton for wanting to ask for permission to protest the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints policy of prohibiting black persons from attaining the priesthood. The UW players planned to wear black armbands during the game against Brigham Young University.
Other events also are scheduled on campus during the week honoring the players.
There will be a free public panel discussion with the Black 14 from 6:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in the UW College of Arts and Sciences auditorium. The panel discussion will provide a picture of the events surrounding the dismissal of the UW players. In addition, the historical importance, the related constitutional issues and the First Amendment will be part of the discussion.
While on campus, the Black 14 will meet with Associated Students of Wyoming leaders, current UW athletes and Black Student Alliance members, and participate in classroom conversations and other university organized events.
A free public open house — hosted at the Multicultural Resource Centers in the Wyoming Union – is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Acting UW President Neil Theobald and Burman will honor the Black 14 players and their guests at a special dinner Friday night.
“More student events are planned for October as we approach the 50th anniversary on Oct. 17, 1969, of the dismissal of the Black 14 football players from the Cowboys team,” UW Vice President for Student Affairs Sean Blackburn said.
The week of events are sponsored by the Office of the President; the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics; Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Division of Student Affairs; Wyoming PBS; We the People; and Wyoming History Day.