Today in Black American history: October 31, 1893 – William - TopicsExpress


Today in Black American history: October 31, 1893 – William Henry Lewis was a Black American pioneer in athletics, politics and law became the first Black American to be honored as an All American on this date in 1893. He was the first Black American college football player, the first in the sport to be selected as an All-American, the first to be appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney, the first to become a member of the American Bar Association, and the first to serve as United States Assistant Attorney General. When he was appointed Assistant Attorney General in 1910, it was reported to be the highest office in an executive branch of the government ever held by a member of that race. Before being appointed as the Assistant Attorney General, Lewis also served for 12 years as a football coach at Harvard University and was a noted expert and author of works on the game. With the assistance of Virginia Normals president, John Mercer Langston, Lewis transferred to Amherst College, where he worked as a waiter to earn his college expenses. He also played football for Amherst for three seasons. In December 1890, the Amherst team voted almost unanimously to elect Lewis as the team captain for his senior year, 1891. He was also the class orator and the winner of prizes for oratory and debating. In his book about the racial integration of football, Alan Howard Levy cites Lewis as the first Black American football player and the 1888 Amherst team as the first integrated team in the history of the sport, writing, In 1888 the Amherst College football team had the first African American player. His name was William H. Lewis. This was the first integration of an America college football team. W. E. B. Du Bois went to the Amherst commencement ceremony to see Lewis and another Black American student receive their diplomas. After graduating from Amherst, Lewis enrolled at Harvard Law School. He played two years for the Harvard football team at the center position. An article published by the College Football Hall of Fame noted that, while Lewis was relatively light for the position 175 pounds he played with intelligence, quickness and maturity. He was named as the center on the College Football All-America Team in both years at Harvard. He was the first Black American to be honored as an All-American, and was named captain of the All-America team in 1893. Yet, despite this renown, on one occasion when Lewis and the Harvard team entered a dining hall, the Princeton University football team rose as a group and exited in objection to the Negro player. In November 1893, Harvards team captain was unable to play in the last game of the season due to an injury. The game was Lewiss last college football game, and the team voted him as the acting captain for the game, making him Harvards first Black American team captain. In announcing the All-America selections for Harpers Weekly, Caspar Whitney wrote that Lewis has proved himself to be not only the best center in football this year, but the best all-round center that has ever put on a football jacket. And in 1900 Walter Camp named Lewis to his All-Time All America Team, noting that Lewiss quickness had revolutionized center play, placing the emphasis on mobility rather than fixed stability. In 1980, Lewis was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Click on the link below to read more about Black Americans and Events. https://facebook/groups/LeConteLewisJr/
Posted on: Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:38:44 +0000

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