Vanderbilt Athletics hosted Black Football Pioneers Weekend from Feb. 10-13, welcoming former Black football players from the 1970s to campus for a series of conversations, camaraderie and recognition.
Pioneers participated in a panel discussion at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center as part of the Center’s Black History Month series, ate brunch and toured McGugin Center with Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, head coach Clark Lea and current football student-athletes. The group also gathered for a banquet at the Vanderbilt Marriott where athletic director Candice Lee and vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion Dr. Andre Churchwell spoke and presented plaques to each attendee.
In addition, Dr. Rosevelt Noble, director of the Black Cultural Center, recorded interviews with several pioneers for his ‘Lost in the Ivy’ series of interviews with Black Vanderbilt students over the generations.
Among the pioneers in attendance were Taylor Stokes, Vanderbilt’s first Black scholarship football player; Walter Overton, the first Black quarterback recruited to an SEC school and a recent inductee into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame; former NFL stars Dennis Harrison, Brenard Wilson and Wamon Buggs and more than 20 other former players.
Vanderbilt alums and former football student-athletes Rod Gurley and James Threalkill were instrumental in organizing the event and both spoke at the banquet. Threalkill, a renowned artist, painted a tribute to the pioneers that was displayed at the events and will hang in McGugin Center.