Black 14

Mel Hamilton, one of the six former University of Wyoming football players part of the Black 14 in 1969, talks to the audience in February at the College of Law on the UW campus. In the background, from left, are other Black 14 members in Tony Gibson, Guillermo Hysaw, John Griffin and Tony McGee.

LARAMIE -- Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Black 14, the University of Wyoming is hosting nine of the 14 players for a series of events on campus this week, including “The Black 14 & the First Amendment, 1969-2019, Panel Discussion” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Arts & Sciences Auditorium on the UW campus.

In the fall of 1969, 14 African American football players at the University of Wyoming were dismissed from the team by then-head coach Lloyd Eaton.

The Black 14 were dismissed as they tried to ask the coach’s permission to wear black armbands during their upcoming game against Brigham Young University, looking to protest a policy held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints barring black people from attaining priesthood.

The panel discussion will provide context on the events leading to the dismissal, the historical importance of the dismissal, related constitutional issues involved and more. Members of the public also had an opportunity to submit potential questions for the panel.

In a news release, UW Director of Athletics Tom Burman said the university is “thrilled to welcome the members back to campus” for the event.

“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,” he added in the release.

For those who can’t make it to campus Thursday, WyomingPBS will live stream the panel discussion. A partnership with the American Heritage Center, the stream can be viewed at www.wyomingpbs.org.

“I look forward to having these former Wyoming Cowboys tell their stories in their own words,” said Craig Blumenshine, panel moderator and senior public affairs producer for WyomingPBS, in a news release.

Before the panel, the players will attend an open house starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Multicultural Resource Center in the Wyoming Union.

On Friday, they will be honored at 4 p.m. with a plaque on the southeast side of War Memorial Stadium near Gate Four. The players will also be recognized during halftime of UW’s football game against University of Idaho on Saturday afternoon in Laramie.

Between events, the players will also have the chance to meet with current UW athletes as well as student organizations like the Black Student Alliance.

UW hosted a similar panel in February as part of its 2019 Black History Conference, where players discussed their perspective of the dismissal and how it affected their lives well into adulthood.

A UW news release added more events are planned for the official anniversary of the player’s dismissal on Oct. 17.

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