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 30
2. "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington2 of 30
3. "Assata: An Autobiography" by Assata Shakur3 of 30
4. "Go Tell It On The Mountain" by James Baldwin4 of 30
5. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston5 of 30
6. "Dreams From My Father" By Barack Obama6 of 30
7. "Breath, Eyes, Memory" by Edwidge Danticat7 of 30
8. "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly8 of 30
9. "Beloved" By Toni Morrison9 of 30
10. "Half Of A Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie10 of 30
11. "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison11 of 30
12. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou12 of 30
13. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" by Fredrick Douglas13 of 30
14. "Song Of Solomon" by Toni Morrison14 of 30
15. "Black Boy" by Richard Wright15 of 30
16. "Blessed Life: My Surprising Journey of Joy, Tears, and Tales from Harlem to Hollywood " by Kim Fields16 of 30
17. "The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide To Hollywood Success" by Devon Franklin17 of 30
18. "We're Gonna Need More Wine" by Gabrielle Union18 of 30
19. "Role Of Thunder Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor19 of 30
20. "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man" by James Weldon Johnson20 of 30
21. "Kindred" by Octavia E. Butler21 of 30
22. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett22 of 30
23. "Hacks: The Inside Story Of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House" by Donna Brazile23 of 30
24. "Higher Is Waiting" by Tyler Perry24 of 30
25. "The Secret Life Of Bees" By Sue Monk Kidd25 of 30
26. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison26 of 30
27. "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. " by Martin Luther King Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson27 of 30
28. "The Blacker The Berry" by Wallace Thurman28 of 30
29. "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander29 of 30
30. "I Am Not Sidney Poitier" by Percival Everett30 of 30
Sign Up For Our Newsletter!