In celebration of Black History Month, Carolina Service Council invited former USC Athletic Administrator Harold White to speak to students about how the university has changed as a result of integration in the 1960s. When the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case ruled that the doctrine “separate but equal” was indeed unconstitutional, White joined the staff at USC and helped recruit many of its first African-American athletes. Three young men, just a year shy of becoming the first African-Americans to attend an all-white college, enrolled at USC in September of 1963.
White, who worked with USC’s athletic department for about 32 years, spoke about how black athletes were received by other students, how important it is to get an education and how the university has evolved.
“USC has groomed a lot of people. It has a lot to be proud of. It has definitely changed over the years,” White said.
White also discussed USC’s first black athletes and how they helped to shape the University’s legacy.
Heisman trophy recipient and All-American player George Rogers spoke about what it was like to play for USC. He told students about how in today’s society, anything less than a college education would not suffice when in search for a decent job.
“It is your job to get an education,” Rogers said. “I was lucky to play football and be the first draft pick to play in the NFL.”
When asked how he and the other black athletes were treated, he stated that “when we won games, it didn’t matter that we were black. They didn’t care.”
Student Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and third-year public relations student Christina Galardi helped organize the event, hoping to inform students about the history behind the university.
“Students today may not realize how previous generations had to work through inequalities to get things how they are now,” Galardi said.
Even though both White and Rogers spoke about what it was like for an athlete, they both came to the same conclusion.
“Make good grades,” Rogers said, “because when you look back, your college life is really what’s most important.”
During the brief question and answer period at the end of the lecture, a student asked White how to face people who label African-Americans who attend USC instead of a historically black colleges and universities. White responded, “Your generation has to build this thing. You have to help new generations move forward. There are folks who gave a lot for you to be here.”