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Collective Action Successes Of The Black14

2146 words - 9 pages

While the country as a whole was fighting the way though many civil rights issues concerning African Americans, each state had citizens that were going through their own struggles that led to protests. At the University of Wyoming, 14 African American football players, later known as the Black 14, wanted to protest their football game against Brigham Young University, due to the university’s association with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The LDS church had rules against allowing African American citizens from being part of the priesthood. The Black 14 along with the University of Wyoming’s Black Student Alliance felt that with all the changes the country was going through, the LDS church should also make changes to be more accepting of African Americans. The Black 14 wanted to wear black armbands while they competed with Brigham Young University the upcoming weekend. They decided to go talk to their coach Lloyd Eaton before they went along with their protest. They had worn the black armbands to their meeting with Coach Eaton and as soon as he saw the arm bands he dismissed them from the team. Although the Black 14 never got to protest the game because they were kicked off the team, this group of young men received both local and national attention. The national effects of the Black 14 mainly had to do with Brigham Young University and the LDS churches’ racist practices; while the local debate was focused on the constitutionality of the dismissal of the 14 African American football players. This case shows that collective action can have many remarkable outcomes, even if the original protest does not go as planned. Whether the protest is national or local, there are 3 key elements that are needed for it to be successful: coverage, support and additional action to change the issue or create more awareness.

The first step to make a protest successful is to get word out about the problem, which often results in news coverage and debate. Even though the Black 14’s protest of the football game against Brigham Young University never actually happened, there was still much coverage of the incident. The members of the Black 14 did not agree with the rule against allowing members of African American decent to be part of the priesthood of the LDS church, and felt that playing Brigham Young University without protest would be like supporting their racism. The news coverage from newspapers around the country, such as the New York Time and the Denver Post, led to awareness of people throughout the United States, but more importantly it got word to other universities. The New York Times reported that African American students from at least 24 universities across the country were becoming more active in protests for civil rights. Not all of these protests had to do with the racist views of the LDS church, but like the Black 14 many of them got their leverage through sports. It was speculated by Coach Eaton of the University of...

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