In a show of unity and forgiveness, the University of Wyoming’s famous 1969 Black 14 football players delivered hundreds of pounds of food to Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie on Monday.
Wyoming’s football coach kicked the 14 off the team after they sought a talk with him about a potential protest at the upcoming game with Brigham Young University. The Utah school is the flagship educational institution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which at the time did not allow Blacks in its priesthood.
The racial incident left a stain on UW, which has since sought to welcome the squad back home. The Black 14 themselves use their experience to heal social wounds and give disadvantaged students a leg up.
The Black 14’s “Mind, Body and Soul” initiative worked with the University of Wyoming’s Office of Diversity and the LDS Church to secure at least four semi-truck loads of food for neighborhoods or institutions of the former football players’ choice. Volunteers from the UW athletic department helped unload the truck Monday.
Black 14 player Mel Hamilton engaged the church over recent years and, with others, got apostles to agree to distribute a half million dollars of non-perishable items from the church’s emergency stockpile in Salt Lake City.
Hamilton, who spent a career as an educator in Casper, chose the Cathedral Home in part because of his experience as a student at Nebraska’s Boys Town school for troubled youth. Some of the Laramie load was scheduled for the free student pantry and another truck was destined for the Wind River Indian Reservation.