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.
25 Books Every African-American Should Read
1. "Annie Allen" by Gwendolyn Brooks1 of 25
2. "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington2 of 25
3. "Assata: An Autobiography" by Assata Shakur3 of 25
4. "Go Tell It On The Mountain" by James Baldwin4 of 25
5. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston5 of 25
6. "Dreams From My Father" By Barack Obama6 of 25
7. "Breath, Eyes, Memory" by Edwidge Danticat7 of 25
8. "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly8 of 25
9. "Beloved" By Toni Morrison9 of 25
10. "Half Of A Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie10 of 25
11. "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison11 of 25
12. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou12 of 25
13. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" by Fredrick Douglas13 of 25
14. "Song Of Solomon" by Toni Morrison14 of 25
15. "Black Boy" by Richard Wright15 of 25
16. "Role Of Thunder Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor16 of 25
17. "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man" by James Weldon Johnson17 of 25
18. "Kindred" by Octavia E. Butler18 of 25
19. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett19 of 25
20. "The Secret Life Of Bees" By Sue Monk Kidd20 of 25
21. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison21 of 25
22. "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. " by Martin Luther King Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson22 of 25
23. "The Blacker The Berry" by Wallace Thurman23 of 25
24. "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander24 of 25
25. "I Am Not Sidney Poitier" by Percival Everett25 of 25
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