African-American Athletes at the University

Dr. Philip Hubbard (1921-2002), first African-American professor at the University of Iowa, recalls early athletes.


The people who came here—except for the athletes—came on their own. Athletes then, as now, were recruited and two of my roommates were all Big Ten caliber athletes. Jim Walker, all Big Ten football player, Lee Farmer, all Big Ten sprint and broad jump champion. And there had been a succession of them. Homer Harris was the first captain of the Iowa football team back in the 30s and before him was Duke Slater and before him was Archie Alexander. So it dates back to the 1910s for the athletic prominence here, but not in basketball. Basketball was considered a sport where they didn’t want to see these athletes running up and down the floor. As one commenter said “in their underwear.” But the football players were always welcome and they didn’t seem to mind the track people either.

Iowa PBS