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Mel Hamilton, a former University of Wyoming football player and a member of the Black 14 in 1969, talks to an audience in February 2019 at the University of Wyoming College of Law in Laramie. In the background, from left, are Tony Gibson, Guillermo Hysaw, John Griffin and Tony McGee, also Black 14 members. Laramie Boomerang/file

LARAMIE – Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Black 14, the University of Wyoming is hosting nine of the 14 players for a series of events on campus this week, including “The Black 14 & the First Amendment, 1969-2019, Panel Discussion” at 7 p.m. today at the Arts and Sciences Auditorium on the UW campus.

In the fall of 1969, 14 African American football players at the University of Wyoming were dismissed from the team by then-head coach Lloyd Eaton.

The Black 14 were dismissed as they tried to ask the coach’s permission to wear black armbands during their upcoming game against Brigham Young University, looking to protest a policy held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints barring black people from attaining priesthood.

The panel discussion will provide context on the events leading to the dismissal, the historical importance of the dismissal, related constitutional issues involved and more. Members of the public also had an opportunity to submit potential questions for the panel.

In a news release, UW Director of Athletics Tom Burman said the university is “thrilled to welcome the members back to campus” for the event.

“We believe this event serves multiple purposes: education, healing and learning how to move forward effectively as we support our current students and celebrate our alumni community,” he added in the release.

For those who can’t make it to campus today, the American Heritage Center has partnered with WyomingPBS to livestream the panel discussion. The stream can be viewed at www.wyomingpbs.org.

“I look forward to having these former Wyoming Cowboys tell their stories in their own words,” said Craig Blumenshine, panel moderator and senior public affairs producer for WyomingPBS, in a news release.

Before the panel, the players will attend an open house starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Multicultural Resource Center in the Wyoming Union.

On Friday, they will be honored at 4 p.m. with a plaque on the southeast side of War Memorial Stadium near Gate Four. The players will also be recognized during halftime of UW’s football game against University of Idaho on Saturday afternoon in Laramie.

Between events, the players will also have the chance to meet with current UW athletes as well as student organizations like the Black Student Alliance.

UW hosted a similar panel in February as part of its 2019 Black History Conference, where players discussed their perspective of the dismissal and how it affected their lives well into adulthood.

A UW news release added more events are planned for the official anniversary of the player’s dismissal Oct. 17.

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