Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

» Peggy Fletcher Stack E-mail

» Subscribe (RSS)

Member of ‘Black 14’ recalls showdown over BYU, Mormon racial policy

On the same evening that the George Zimmerman verdict came down in the Trayvon Martin case, Mel Hamilton was in Provo, describing to an eager crowd his experience 44 years ago as a black football player protesting Mormonism’s former priesthood ban.

In 1969, Hamilton was one of the so-called "Black 14" — African-American players on the University of Wyoming’s football team — who planned to wear black armbands in their game against LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University to symbolize their opposition to the Utah-based faith’s policy (discarded in 1978) of excluding black men from holding its all-male priesthood.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

When he learned of their plans, Wyoming coach Lloyd Eaton revoked their scholarships and kicked all the players off the team.

"Would I do it again? That’s always a stupid question. If the situation was the same, obviously, yes. Do I wish it was different? Yes," Hamilton told the Provo crowd, according to a report on the Mormon blog Wheat and Tares. "Do I wish there was transition period in Laramie, for people of different lifestyle? Yes."

The Black 14 happened, he said, "because of ignorance in how we should treat fellow human beings."

Now Hamilton speaks to high school classes about the protest, and it is discussed, he said, in every junior high school in Wyoming, and is taught at the University of New Mexico law school, University of Wyoming law school and the University of Arizona.

Four years ago, students at the LDS Institute of Religion in Laramie, the blog says, "volunteered to make black armbands for the 40th anniversary of the Black 14 protest."

Some things haven’t changed, though.

When Hamilton lived in Laramie, he noticed white students crossing the street to avoid him when they saw him on campus.

Margaret Young, the BYU professor who organized Saturday’s event, said her school’s black students have reported as recently as this year that such racial avoidance still happens at times in Utah.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.