IU Athletics Celebrates Black History Month
Jan. 25, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - George Thompson, a native of Covington, Ind. became Indiana University's first noted African-American athlete.
When the Olympic record for the 440-yard dash stood at 49.2, Thompson won the event at an indoor track meet in Chicago, with a 51.4, grasping the IU record. Thompson also anchored IU's mile relay team, which won the Western championship by beating Illinois, in front of 7,000 screaming fans in St. Louis.
Thompson's ability to break records and barriers did not stop on the field of competition. He became the director of a new black YMCA in Akron, Ohio, and later founded the Association for Colored Community Workers.
Prior to Jackie Robinson's debut as the first African American to play modern day Major League Baseball, George Taliaferro was a star halfback on IU's first great football team in 1945.
Following an amazing career at IU, in 1949, Taliaferro became the first African American drafted by the National Football League when the Chicago Bears expressed their interest in him. Taliaferro opted to honor the contract he had previously signed with the Los Angeles Dons of the All-American Football Conference. However, Taliaferro would eventually go on to play in the NFL for teams such as the New York Yanks, Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles.
He completed a bachelor's degree from IU in 1951.
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