Former African-American student-athletes who broke the color barrier at West Virginia University will gather to observe a “Tribute to the Brown v. Board of Education Decision: Celebrating pioneering African-American student-athletes at WVU,” April 23-25. The three-day event will recognize those who forged a new way for African-Americans to be a part of the WVU and Morgantown community.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Brown v. Board Education of Topeka, Kansas, case was decided by the Supreme Court on May 17, 1954. The unanimous decision ruled that racial segregation in educational facilities was a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This major conquest of the civil rights movement also opened doors for African-American student-athletes in colleges across the United States.

“Even though Brown v. Board opened the doors for African-Americans in colleges and public schools around the country, the environment was still hostile. This event honors these brave men and women who had the courage to be a collegiate student-athlete at a time when African-Americans were told they weren’t supposed to,” said Dana Brooks, dean, WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.

In commemoration of the decision, several former notable WVU student-athletes will be on hand during the gathering: Former football players Garett Ford, Major Harris, Pat White, Daryl Tally, John Mallory and Rasheed Marshall, as well as Warren Baker (men’s basketball), Cheryl Nabors Phillips (women’s track and field), Georgeann Wells (women’s basketball) and Shirley D. Robinson (women’s tennis).

Other dignitaries in attendance include Shane Lyons, WVU director of athletics, and David M. Fryson, vice president and head of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at WVU.

“These men and women paved the way for so many other WVU African-American students, so it is our duty to honor them as pioneers. The Brown v. Board of Education decision was a great victory for the civil rights movement and these pioneers notched many victories on and off the court for African-Americans at WVU,” Brooks said.

“Our University has greatly benefitted from their contributions as student-athletes. On behalf of the planning committee, I am proud to be able to host this event at WVU,” he added.

The celebration begins with a welcome presentation at the Erickson Alumni Center on Thursday, April 23, 7-8:30 p.m.

The activities continue on Friday, April 24, at 9 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. in the Erickson Alumni Center with a tribute to pioneering African-American men, and then African-American quarterbacks. Former quarterbacks on hand for the ceremony will include Harris, White and Marshall.

Pioneering African-American women and African-American coaches at WVU will be featured in separate panel discussions. Marlon LeBlanc, head coach of WVU’s men’s soccer team will be on hand for the event.

Finally, a panel discussion highlighting media personalities will round out the event. A social reception will follow.

The tribute will wrap up on Saturday morning at the WVU Student Recreation Center by honoring those athletes who moved on to professional or Olympic careers.

For more information about the event and to register, please visit



CONTACT: Kimberly Cameon, College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
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