AMES, Iowa - In 1926, historian, author and educator Carter Godwin Woodson, himself the son of slaves and the editor of Journal of Negro History, conceived and started Negro History Week. It later became Black History Month. That same year, a young man from Detroit arrived on the Iowa State campus. Holloway Smith had come from Michigan State to earn a degree in agricultural education and play football.
Part of Smith's legacy was being the second African-American student-athlete in Iowa State history. Much has been written on the courage and fate of Smith's predecessor Jack Trice. Killed in 1923 by injuries suffered in his second collegiate game, the story of Trice's tragic end has been recounted thanks to individuals whose efforts culminated with the naming of Iowa State's football facility as Jack Trice Stadium in 1997.
Smith faced protracted discrimination three years after Trice's death that Trice would have encountered had he not died after just two games of football. This February, in recognition of Black History Month, cyclones.com profiles six individuals among Iowa State's first African-American student-athletes.
Thursday - Holloway Smith
Little is known about Iowa State's second African-American athlete, who competed in 1926 and 1927 for the Cyclones. He faced subtle and overt discrimination but overcame them to graduate in 1928. We investigated his story and shed some light on his life at Iowa State.
Feb. 6 - Dr. Henry Philmon
Came to Iowa State in 1952 from Davenport and was Iowa State's fourth African-American student-athlete. Philmon played football and earned All-America honors in track and field as a Cyclone. Philmon went on to earn a veterinary medicine degree at Iowa State in 1958 as the only African-American in his class.
Feb. 9 - Harold R.E. Potts
Potts came to Iowa State one year behind Henry Philmon and the two were teammates on the Iowa State football team in 1954 and 1955. Potts had some experiences like his teammate and some that were unique to him. Potts would go on and to graduate and like Dr. Philmon, did a stint in the military that began with ROTC at Iowa State.
Feb. 13 - Vinnie Brewer
A true star on the court from 1959-62 as an Iowa State basketball player Brewer's adjustment to Iowa State after growing up in New York in the 1950s was actually pretty smooth. He worked for many years helping disadvantaged youth and though in semi-retirement mode, is still helping young people.
Feb. 16 - Ike Harris
He caught only one pass in high school but had a great football career at Iowa State and in the NFL. He then went on to success in the corporate world that transcended his playing career. He is a member of the ISU Letterwinners Hall of Fame.
Feb. 19 - Ron Gallimore
Was a true trailblazer as an African American and a gifted performer in the sports of gymnastics. An Iowa State star, he reached the highest heights in this Olympic sport and was involved in one of the most dramatic moments in Iowa State athletics history.