Irwin Holmes

irwin Holmes, 1958. 

Race and Space the Athletic Department looks at the early origins of African American Athletes at North Carolina State University. African American athletes were instrumental in helping to integrate the university and break down the barriers of racial discrimination. North Carolina State like all universities in the South did not recruit nor have African American members on its major sports teams prior to the late 1960s. However, as the successes of the civil rights movement start to be realized, many universities began to recruit their first black athletes. In many instances, these athletes were one of only a few black students on campus. For this exhibit, it is especially important to view the appearance and recruitment of the first black athletes in the revenue generating sports of Division 1 football and basketball. Division 1 football and basketball attract the largest number of spectators in terms of students, alumni and local supports of the athletic department. In was in the venues of Carter Finley Stadium and Reynolds Coliseum where black athletes first made their presence known, spaces that heretofore had been the exclusive domain of whites. How would white supporters accustomed to enthusiastically cheering for all white teams react to the presence of African American athletes?

It can be convincingly argued that the success of N.C. State’s athletic teams with black athletes had a correspondingly positive impact on the impression of African Americans with students, alumni and the surrounding communities. As space was shared for the inclusion of African American athletes, the university started to experience unprecedented success. These early pioneers not only opened the doors for other athletes but also made it possible for other students to arrive on a campus more accepting of African Americans.




[1] Historical State. ʺAfrican Americans, Timeline.ʺ Accessed October 25, 2014.‑Americans.