It is easy to assume that the Ku Klux Klan’s racist reign of terror only existed in the southern regions of the United States, but our brothers and sisters in the Pacific Northwest also faced the hate group. Despite this towering barrier, Robert Robinson and Charles Williams rose to become the first Black athletes at the University of Oregon, and the first Black college athletes in the state.
The future Oregon Ducks both hailed from Portland and were friends and rivals from different high schools. Robinson was a multi-sport star at Jefferson High, while Williams was a running back at Washington High. They came to the University of Oregon in Eugene with high expectations and the drama of their race as the centerpiece. The school’s campus was still married to the idea of segregation, so off-campus housing was their only option.
Given the Klan’s presence and the climate, it was shocking that the team’s white players petitioned that Robinson and Williams were allowed to live on campus although resistance was still high. Despite this, Coach John McEwan made them centerpieces in his team’s schemes. In fact, there are reports that suggest that Robinson and Williams, who both played several positions, may have been the first Black quarterbacks ever to play for a major integrated college.
With the tiresome efforts of writer and research Herman L. Brame, the legacies of Robinson and Williams will not go forgotten. Brame has written that Robinson became a notable track and field athlete in Canada, eventually moving to Los Angeles and becoming an activist.
30 Books Every African-American Should Read
1. "Annie Allen" by Gwendolyn Brooks1 of 28
2. "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington2 of 28
3. "Assata: An Autobiography" by Assata Shakur3 of 28
4. "Go Tell It On The Mountain" by James Baldwin4 of 28
5. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston5 of 28
6. "Dreams From My Father" By Barack Obama6 of 28
7. "Breath, Eyes, Memory" by Edwidge Danticat7 of 28
8. "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly8 of 28
9. "Beloved" By Toni Morrison9 of 28
10. "Half Of A Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie10 of 28
11. "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison11 of 28
12. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou12 of 28
13. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" by Fredrick Douglas13 of 28
14. "Song Of Solomon" by Toni Morrison14 of 28
15. "Blessed Life: My Surprising Journey of Joy, Tears, and Tales from Harlem to Hollywood " by Kim Fields15 of 28
16. "The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide To Hollywood Success" by Devon Franklin16 of 28
17. "We're Gonna Need More Wine" by Gabrielle Union17 of 28
18. "Role Of Thunder Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor18 of 28
19. "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man" by James Weldon Johnson19 of 28
20. "Kindred" by Octavia E. Butler20 of 28
21. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett21 of 28
22. "Hacks: The Inside Story Of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House" by Donna Brazile22 of 28
23. "The Secret Life Of Bees" By Sue Monk Kidd23 of 28
24. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison24 of 28
25. "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. " by Martin Luther King Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson25 of 28
26. "The Blacker The Berry" by Wallace Thurman26 of 28
27. "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander27 of 28
28. "I Am Not Sidney Poitier" by Percival Everett28 of 28
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