BYU to honor ‘Black 14′ football players who were kicked off Wyoming’s team for protesting LDS Church policies in 1969

The 1969 incident, which put a spotlight on LDS Church policies, will be the subject of a student-produced documentary being shown on BYU’s campus.

John Griffin, right, ties a black armband on the arm of his former teammate Mel Hamilton prior to The Black 14 panel discussion in the Central Ballroom Tuesday November 3, 2009 in Laramie, Wyo. The discussion marks the 40-year anniversary when in 1969 14 Wyoming football players were kicked off the team as they planned on wearing black armbands during a game against BYU. (Photo by Andy Carpenean/Laramie Boomerang)

Two members of the “Black 14″ — a group of Wyoming football players who were kicked off their team in 1969 for planning to protest Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ policies during a game against BYU — are being honored this week in Provo.

Ahead of the No. 19 Cougars’ matchup with the Wyoming Cowboys, Mel Hamilton and John Griffin will light the Y on the mountain above LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night.

On Friday, the two men will participate in a question-and-answer session on BYU’s campus after the showing of a new documentary about their story.

“The Black 14: Healing Hearts and Feeding Souls” was produced by students in the BYU School of Communications and details the Black 14′s plan to protest LDS Church policies, which at the time banned Black males from holding its priesthood and Black men and women from entering its temples.

The Wyoming football players approached their coach, Lloyd Eaton, with a plan to wear black armbands during the Cowboys’ game against BYU in Laramie, Wyo., that season. Eaton kicked all 14 players off the team for breaking rules regarding protests.

The film, which will be shown at 7 p.m. in BYU’s Varsity Theater, also highlights the relationship between members of the Black 14 and the LDS Church in recent years.

The church lifted its priesthood/temple ban for Black members in 1978.

“That’s what this whole thing was all about — the fight for equal rights,” Hamilton said in 2009, on the 40th anniversary of the Black 14. “I think we got our point across.”

By that time, Hamilton’s son had become a member of the LDS Church.

The Black 14 Philanthropy, founded by the surviving members of the 1969 group, partnered with Latter-day Saint Charities, the church’s humanitarian arm, in 2020 to donate 180 tons of food to feed the hungry in nine U.S. cities.