This Day in History: 1916-03-04

Homer E. Harris Jr., M.D., a groundbreaking African American athlete, is born. He became the first Black captain of Seattle’s Garfield High School football team. He played college football for the University of Iowa, becoming the team’s Most Valuable Player and the first Black player to captain a Big Ten team in 1937. He was named All-Big Ten three years in a row. Because the National Football League (NFL) was whites-only at that time, a pro-career was closed to him, despite his proven, superior skills. Instead, Harris went to medical school and became a dermatologist. He served as head coach of the North Carolina A&T football team in 1940. Dr. Harris was inducted into the Hawkeyes’ Hall of Fame in 2002, and had a Seattle park named after him the same year.