The United States Sports Academy is honoring those who faced discrimination in the world of sport through an oral history project featuring African American athletes from Mobile County Training School (MCTS).
In conjunction with the MCTS Alumni Association, the Academy has launched a special webpage for the project called the Black Sports History Project to celebrate Black History Month.
The page includes five interviews featuring athletes, who participated in sports at MCTS during segregation, roughly spanning the time period between 1955 and 1980. This time period was when the most visible activities of the civil rights movement took place.
Brandon Spradley, a doctoral teaching assistant with the Academy, and MCTS alumnus Anderson Flen teamed up for the project that will present the unsung and untold stories of the athletes, many of whom simply weren’t afforded the opportunity to play in college, or the professional ranks.
As an example of the struggles of African American athletes in the deep south, the first African American athlete awarded a scholarship in the Southeastern Conference was Perry Wallace, who played basketball at Vanderbilt from 1966-1970. He has since had his jersey number retired at the school and was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
The history of integration in sports is well known at the highest level, but the experiences of African Americans who were athletes at lower levels of competition are less well known. This project seeks to identify those individuals, who played sports during the aforementioned time period. The project will cover youth sports all the way to semi-professional sports.
Spradley said he feels the interviews, which are each about an hour long, are significant.
“It teaches African Americans about the history of sports in the Mobile area and how a lot of athletes went through discrimination and segregation,” he said. “I think it’s also significant as an educational piece, as it teaches the history of African Americans in sports.”
To view the webpage celebrating the stories of these athletes and coaches, visit www.ussa.edu/black-sports-history-project.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303, or visit www.ussa.edu.