In This Day Of Protests, We Remember The ’69 Protest At The University Of Wyoming
People have participated in protests for many years. People have marched, held signs and made their voices heard as is their right, even here in Wyoming.
In 1969, 14 black students were kicked off the football team at the University of Wyoming, as they protested against the treatment of black people in America.
At the time, the coach of the football team was not very responsive to the protests and many at the University of Wyoming took the side of the university when the 14 black players were removed from the football team.
At the time of the protest, the team was enjoying a 4-0 season and were hoping to be undefeated that year. Their next scheduled game was against BYU.
About a week before the two teams would meet, a University of Wyoming black student named Willie Black found out what the Mormon churches policy was toward black ministers.
Mr. Black put together a protest at the university, but no athletes were allowed to participate in campus protests as said by Coach Lloyd Eaton.
14 black football players had a chat with the coach about the policy, which ended in them being dismissed from the team.
The players went to talk with Eaton wearing black arm bands. According to a report from the players, what made matters worse was when Eaton insulted them in an angry tone.
These players received national recognition and were known as the 'Black 14.'
The players did meet with University of Wyoming President William Carlson, athletic director Red Jacoby and even had an audience with, then governor, Stanley Hathaway.
After all of this, the school would not move on their position and the end result was that the players were removed as the school saw it as an 'open defiance of a coaching staff regulation' and would not be tolerated.
The story became so big and nationally known, that Sports Illustrated even carried it. In the end, Coach Eaton lost the war and lost his job as the Cowboys ended up losing the last four road games.
They were met by protests on the road and in 1970, the team had a record of 1-9 and Eaton was let go.
In memory of The Black 14 of 1969, a bronze sculpture, by Cheyenne resident Guadalupe Barajas, sits in the basement of the Wyoming Union and was dedicated in 2002.