Introduction to The Black 14

The incident that came to be known as "The Black 14" began on October 17, 1969 when 14 African-American players were dismissed from the University of Wyoming football team by then coach Lloyd Eaton. These players wanted to wear black armbands during the game with Brigham Young University the next day to protest a policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which they considered to be racist. BYU is operated by the LDS Church and the policy in question was one that would not permit African Americans to become priests.

Coach Eaton's actions and the University Board of Trustee's decision to support them led to a unique case pitting the constitutional right of free speech against the principle of separation of church and state. The case, known as Williams v. Eaton, would prove to be one of prolonged litigation that finally came to an end on October 31, 1972 with the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit upholding the U.S. District Court�s decision. The plaintiff did not seek to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, using the primary sources provided here, one can examine the events that took place during the months between the fall of 1969 and the fall of 1972 and develop a better understanding of the issues and principles involved in The Black 14 Incident.