Sports and history buffs joined by historical photos

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 114 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — It was standing-room only in the Helen Robson Walton Reading Room of Mullins Library Monday night (July 23) as historians and sports enthusiasts gathered for an evening of discussion about Razorback sports history.

The event centered around the Washington County Historical Society’s recent donation of historic photos of Razorback Stadium to the University of Arkansas libraries. Members of the society stumbled upon the photos at the organization’s Headquarter’s House, a 159-year-old building near the corner of College Avenue and Dickson Street. The affair was free and open to the public. About 150 packed into the reading room and stayed well past dark.

The night at the UA library kicked off with a history of Razorback sports broadcasting presented by Hoyt Purvis, a UA journalism professor and president of the historical society. Purvis recounted the history of Razorback sports coverage from the first broadcasts of Razorback games to the notable line of more recent broadcasters, including Bud Campbell, Paul Eells and Mike Nail.

Next, a panel discussion led by newspaper columnist Nate Allen featured three of the first blacks to join the Razorback football team: Brison Manor, Johnnie Meadors and Dennis Winston, all of whom were recruited in 1973 and 1974 to a team that had only recently been integrated.

“It wasn’t a very remarkable year in some ways,” Allen said. The young team had five wins and five losses during 1973 season, he explained.
“But in retrospect, it was a very important year that changed the culture at the University of Arkansas forever.”

It was a game-changer for young men who grew up believing they wouldn’t be able to play football in their home state.

“I saw Arkansas win the national championship [in the 1964 season], and I thought, ‘That’s one school I’ll never get to go to because I saw there were no African-Americans on the team,’” Manor said. He donned the Razorback uniform less than a decade later.

The panel convened to a standing ovation from the audience.

Afterward, Bev Lewis, the University of Arkansas executive associate athletic director, presented a short history of women’s athletics at the UA in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a civil rights law that expanded athletic opportunities for women.