National Institute on Aging

Arizona State University Honors Its First Black Football Player

The Arizona State University football team will all wear helmets with a circular sticker containing the number 57 this year. The stickers honor Emerson Harvey, who 75 years ago was the first African American to play varsity football at what was then Arizona State Teachers College. Harvey wore the number 57 on his football uniform.

Harvey’s presence on the football team at the university served to play a major role in the racial integration of college sports in the southwest. He came to Arizona from Sacramento Community College in 1937. He played as a running back and defensive end. He earned his degree in 18 months, achieving close to a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He went on to be an industrial arts teacher and coach at high schools in the Phoenix area.


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