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4/5/2017 9:18:00 AM
EDITORIAL: Honor for Bill Garrett deserved, overdue

Herald-Times

The historical marker to be placed outside the Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center doesn’t erase the bias and indignities suffered by African-Americans in Bloomington and elsewhere in the 1940s, ’50s — or before or after. But it is an appropriate gesture that celebrates a pioneer in Bill Garrett and offers a history lesson on the time in which he was a student at Indiana University.

As recounted in a story in the Tuesday H-T by reporter Michael Reschke, Garrett was the first black basketball player at IU and the second in the Big Ten — the first being a University of Iowa player who saw limited action in one season. Garrett’s inclusion and success on the IU team is credited with helping integrate basketball across the country.

IU President Herman B Wells and trustee Wildermuth figured prominently in the story. Wells went to IU coach Branch McCracken to push for Garrett to be a part of the team. Wildermuth, on the other hand, opposed racial integration and denigrated blacks, according to historical writings.

Placing the historical marker comes in the wake of a nearly decade-old controversy that erupted after Wildermuth’s views on blacks were published in a book about Garrett by author Tom Graham. Calls began for the former trustee’s name to be removed from the intramural center, also known as the HPER building. Instead, the university announced in 2009 it would add Garrett’s name to Wildermuth’s, which members of the Garrett family did not want.

Family members told Reschke they’re pleased with the historical designation.

When the marker is placed Saturday, it will honor a man of courage who helped change history. The honor is overdue but well deserved.

The historical marker to be placed outside the Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center doesn’t erase the bias and indignities suffered by African-Americans in Bloomington and elsewhere in the 1940s, ’50s — or before or after. But it is an appropriate gesture that celebrates a pioneer in Bill Garrett and offers a history lesson on the time in which he was a student at Indiana University.

As recounted in a story in the Tuesday H-T by reporter Michael Reschke, Garrett was the first black basketball player at IU and the second in the Big Ten — the first being a University of Iowa player who saw limited action in one season. Garrett’s inclusion and success on the IU team is credited with helping integrate basketball across the country.

IU President Herman B Wells and trustee Wildermuth figured prominently in the story. Wells went to IU coach Branch McCracken to push for Garrett to be a part of the team. Wildermuth, on the other hand, opposed racial integration and denigrated blacks, according to historical writings.

Placing the historical marker comes in the wake of a nearly decade-old controversy that erupted after Wildermuth’s views on blacks were published in a book about Garrett by author Tom Graham. Calls began for the former trustee’s name to be removed from the intramural center, also known as the HPER building. Instead, the university announced in 2009 it would add Garrett’s name to Wildermuth’s, which members of the Garrett family did not want.

Family members told Reschke they’re pleased with the historical designation.

When the marker is placed Saturday, it will honor a man of courage who helped change history. The honor is overdue but well deserved.

Related Stories:
• Marker at IU to honor Shelbyville basketball icon who helped change history

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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