JACKSON, Wyo. — Fifty years ago today, 14 University of Wyoming students geared up to play a football game against the BYU Cougars. Instead, they were fired from the team.
They became known as the Black 14. They were kicked off the team for protesting racism they experienced from their opponents, the Cougars. They fought back with legal battles, protests, and media attention that often only served to prove their point. The coach that fired them resigned at the end of the season, but the Black 14 never played again.
As a freshman at Jackson Hole High School, River Gayton learned about the Black 14 in a history class. Now a senior, she started a petition on Change.org to get a Black 14 memorial monument on the UW campus.
It worked. Gayton was an honored guest at the new Black 14 memorial unveiling last month. The monument is on the front of the War Memorial Stadium, the very same place that became a hub of protest and hostility 50 years ago. She accompanied the surviving 8 members of the Black 14 onto the field for the first time in 50 years.
Gayton also attended the 50th-anniversary commemorative dinner where UW Athletics Director Tom Burman read an official apology.
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