Reclaiming a Forgotten Legacy - Part 1 Honoring Proposals

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Many businesses, organizations and institutions around the country have started a "re-examining" process and are removing names and images found or previously known to be offensive, or divisively arguing what is and is not offensive. So what about K-State and our re-examining process? Because Kansas State University does not have any buildings named after Confederate soldiers and our spirit songs do not appear to have unknown histories, do we stop there? A complete re-examining of our history shows we were once fearless leaders in racial justice. Each generation is to build on the successes of its predecessors. We do not believe this has happened. We believe it is time to reclaim our legacy and show the country how to add names to the honor roll and erect statues.

The essential question is: Rather than being content removing offensive tokens of history, do we have history that we have failed to properly honor in a manner that keeps our true legacy from becoming living history and allowing that legacy to Remind, Educate and Motivate K-Staters for all time? When history is properly honored by naming prominent structures, it serves to Remind us of our past, Educate us in the present and Motivate us to Continually Improve in the future.

K-State history includes Milton Eisenhower, the first university president to directly challenge segregated southern schools by refusing to leave black players home for games at those universities. He took on a codified conference rule. Former K-State star football player Ralph Graham would come home to become the head coach with the resolve to make Eisenhower’s proclamations come true. In 1949, Harold Robinson became the player with the courage to permanently integrate the Big 7 conference when he took the varsity football field. Robinson was followed by Hoyt Givens as the second black football player in conference history with Veryl Switzer becoming the third. Robinson and Givens would become the first black athletes to compete in a contest held at the University of Oklahoma. Earl Woods broke the Big 7 color barrier in baseball in 1951. In the 1951-52 season Gene Wilson along with LaVannes Squires of KU broke the color barrier in basketball. In 1978, former K-State batboy Dave Baker would return home to become the first, and to this date only, black head baseball coach in the Big 8 and now Big 12 conference.

This is our legacy, the first to integrate the conference. Stories have been written about these people, but there is little knowledge in the community at large. We have allowed our legacy to become functionally erased. It is time to reclaim it, to stand proudly on it and hold ourselves and our leadership accountable to it. We need to honor these people with prominent structures in order to make their history function for all generations, making them a living history they deserve. The alternative is to stay quiet and allow ourselves to be defined by false stereotypes or by inappropriate social media posts by one student.

Naming prominent things only has the power the community chooses to give it. The entire K-State community should have a voice in changes and additions proposed in this document. However those of us with only factual knowledge of racism and discrimination should yield the largest input to those who have factual and emotional experience and knowledge of racism. Proposals should first be reviewed by administration, followed by the student athletes, the student body, former athletes and the community at large.

It is with pride, and respect and consideration of our fellow students and athletes, our university, our community, and the State of Kansas to submit these proposals to the K-State administration and community for consideration, approval and action.

K-State Naming Proposals:

Bill Snyder Family Stadium is not one structure, but a collection of components. K-State has established a tradition of naming stadium components in the Vanier Family Complex, Wagner Field and Ice Family Video Boards. In keeping with tradition we make the following football naming proposals

  • Harold Robinson West Stadium Center (Current West Stadium Center)

  • Hoyt Givens South Stadium Center (Under construction South Endzone Project

  • Veryl Switzer East Stadium Center (Current East Upper Deck)

Other Naming Proposals

  • Name the Bramlage Coliseum basketball court Gene Wilson Court

  • Name the new baseball and soccer complex the Earl Woods Baseball and Soccer Complex

  • Name the new clubhouse in Tointon Family Stadium the Dave Baker Clubhouse

  • Create further honors to Milton Eisenhower on campus

  • Induct in the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame: Hoyt Givens, Gene Wilson, Earl Woods, and Milton Eisenhower

  • Update Ralph Graham’s Hall of Fame bio to include his role in integrating the Big 7 conference.

Robinson-Trice Trophy and Farmageddon Proposals:

On October 1st, 1949, Harold Robinson played in his first Big 7 conference game breaking a codified color barrier put in place in reaction to players such as Jack Trice who died on October 8, 1923 from injuries sustained is his second football game played on October 6th. Jack Trice Stadium is the only major college football stadium named after a black person. The shared histories, and the proximity of historical dates, provide a tremendous opportunity to make Farmageddon a truly special game unlike any other in college football.

  • Commission the creation of The Robinson-Trice Trophy to be awarded to the winner of the Farmageddon.

  • Set the first Saturday in October the Traditional weekend for Farmageddon to be nearest the historic dates of each university.

  • Declare October 1st Harold Robinson Day.

  • Hold KSUnite day annually on October 1st in conjunction with Harold Robinson Day.

  • Consider a combined diversity effort with Iowa State if they honor a Jack Trice Day similar to KSUnite.

  • Switch the 2022 Farmageddon Game to Manhattan, KS to allow for Farmageddon to be played in Ames, IA on Friday 8th, 2023, the centennial of Jack Trice’s death

  • Switch the 2048 Farmageddon Game to Ames, IA to allow for Farmageddon to be played in Manhattan, KS in 2049, the centennial of Harold Robinson integrating hte conference.

  • Play both centennial games wearing Harold Robinson and Jack Trice retro uniforms.

It is our sincere hope that, after reading the history that will follow in this series, the entire K-State community will be in agreement simply memorializing in some temporal fashion with impact lasting about as long as the ceremony is not enough. We need to honor in a fashion that reclaims our legacy. Honored in a way that lets everyone know, unlike other schools, when the President of Kansas State University issues a diversity statement and plans, those words have merit, power and community filled resolve, less the president fails the legacy of the office and we fail the legacy of our university.

Hail, Hail, Hail Alma Mater,

Ken Neaderhiser ‘95, Matthew Neaderhiser ‘21

Part 2 - The History

Part 3 - Rationale

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