Local African American men recognize Black student athletes achievements during segregation

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.- A group of African American citizens from the area have been working together to recognize Black athletes’ achievements during segregation. 

“They felt there was a story that needed to be told,” said resident Jim Stockton. 

From 1932 to 1958, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association prohibited Black student athletes to compete against white students. This was under the state’s 1904 school segregation law, and it made them stay in a separate league. Some of the Black schools didn’t have resources for adequate playing as well. 

“Basically they were just disappointed. And frustrated. Because the conditions under which they would play was just horrific,” said Stockton, who’s a principal writer for their project. 

The group of seven men are putting together these memorable achievements in a booklet called “Voices of the Segregated Past.” They are interviewing still-living athletes from the Region 3-E41 area of the league in South Central Kentucky. 

“I think it’s important to talk about it now, because it’s more like a hidden past. You mention E-41 or the term used years ago was the ‘Negro League, colored high schools.’ The younger generation, they know nothing about this,” said project visionary Alonzo Webb. 

They hope this project sheds light on the accomplishments of these athletes during a period of discrimination and isolation.  While the nation is currently observing Black History Month, organizers don’t want their work to just stop there. 

“I’m one of those types that believes that we must study our history on a daily basis, a monthly basis, a yearly basis,” said Webb. 

The project’s booklet is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Sherri Wesley with the Glasgow Cultural Center helped make this project possible by assisting research and grant applications.