Thursday, February 12, 2015

Little Known Black History Fact: Dean Smith



Dean Smith, the legendary coach of the University of North Carolina’s men’s basketball team, has died at age 83.

While Smith’s basketball accomplishments are well known, new light has been shed on his fight for racial equality in sports and life. Smith was urged by his pastor to recruit an African-American player, this during the swelling heights of the Civil Rights Movement and statewide resistance to racial equality in the Deep South. Smith needed to recruit a player that could handle UNC’s rigid coursework and deal with the racism and threats that was sure to come.

New York player Charles “Charlie” Scott became that recruit. Smith became an advocate for Black players and students. In 1964, Smith desegregated a lunch counter in North Carolina by sitting and eating lunch with a Black theology student. Smith was beloved for protecting his Black players as well as he could. Smith also encouraged his players to complete their education and top stars like Michael Jordan and Vince Carter returned to complete their degrees after leaving early for the NBA. In fact, Smith has seen a reported 96 percent graduation rate among his former players.



















(Photo by Zeke Smith)

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