SMC President, Athletics, and DEI to Recognize Alumni for Activism at SMC-Gonzaga Game

This Saturday, February 26, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Basketball Walkout, an event that changed the course of Saint Mary’s history. Fifty years ago, Herman Brown ’75, Roy Brown ’72, Maurice Harper ’75, Alonzo Strange ’72, and Nate Carroll ’75, five Black Gael basketball players, bravely protested racism at Saint Mary’s College by walking off the court at halftime during a game against longtime rival Santa Clara University. 

The Athletics Department; the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; accompanied by President Richard Plumb, will honor these Gael alumni this Saturday during halftime when the Gaels take on Gonzaga’s Bulldogs at 7 p.m. in the University Credit Union Pavilion. 

The Basketball Walkout was in part motivated by the termination of former Saint Mary’s basketball star and Dean of Students Odell Johnson ’58, the first administrator of color at the College, and a champion for SMC students of color. Following the protest, the five basketball players were suspended, and students of color, international students, and white allies protested by fasting in the Chapel and setting up a tent camp in De La Salle Quad. Students drafted up a list of demands, including that there be proportional minority representation on College advisory and policy-making bodies. 

As a result of the student-led protests, many of the College’s student success programs and academic services that we know today were developed: the High Potential Program, the Tutorial & Academic Skills Center (formerly the Office of Tutorial Services Program); Center for Writing Across the Curriculum (previously, Better Writing courses); the Student Success Office (formerly, the Office of Advising Services), orientation programs for new students, parents, and families were enhanced, and more. 

Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Evette Castillo Clark shared her reflections on the halftime recognition: “I am honored to have had the opportunity to hear some of the courageous and thought-provoking stories and experiences of these Black student-athlete alums as I extended the invitation to them to be recognized on the 26th.  As students who stood for what they wanted their institution to be— a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment—how fitting it would be to commemorate their halftime walkout of that game in 1972 and to ‘walk-in’ to halftime 50 years later in 2022.  We honor them during Saint Mary’s 44 Days Honoring Black History.”

Join us this Saturday to honor Herman Brown, Roy Brown, Maurice Harper, Alonzo Strange, and Nate Carroll for their courage and sacrifice; their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and for challenging the College to live up to its Lasallian values.