Answer to Question #49476 in Economics of Enterprise for Obinna
The Southeastern Conference had all-white athletic teams for decades until the University of Kentucky fielded two African American football players in 1967. Within five years, every football team in the conference was integrated. Why did the SEC do such a sudden about face?
The Wildcats defensive end, Nat Northington, played for a total of three minutes in the contest. His performance cut short that afternoon by a dislocated shoulder that would plague him the whole of the season. Despite its brevity, his presence on the football field marked the first integrated Southeast Conference game. Just more than five years later, every team in the SEC would have African-American athletes on their roster. (Ironically, the last team to add a black player would be that same Ole Miss squad). A week before the Kentucky vs Mississippi contest, Northington started in the Wildcats season opener against Indiana in Bloomington, In. Although it marked the first time an SEC team took the field with a black player in the starting roster. Despite the milestone, the day was a dark one. The Wildcats lost 12-10 and Northington dislocated his shoulder (later that week the team would bury the squads other black player, Greg Page, who died from injuries he received in fall practice). While the SEC was considered the "final citadel of segregation" in college football, when integration finally arrived, it moved relatively quickly across the conference. A key reason is that toward the end of the 60s the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare began threatening to pull federal funding from schools not in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.