7/13/2013: From the wonderful fan based Fishduck.com blog:
In 1926 two Portland, OR residents came to Eugene for their academic and athletic pursuits, Robert “Bobby” Robinson and Charles Williams. They were recruited by new Oregon head coach John J. McEwan, an All-American in 1914 at Army, the school where he later coached 1923-25. …
It was not without its difficulties though, as both Robinson and Williams were initially barred from living in campus dorms, having to find housing in off-campus apartments during their freshman year. Their white teammates signed a petition and submitted it to the school under protest demanding that their fellow players be allowed to live on campus in the dormitories alongside their peers.
I wonder if the UO archives have a copy of that petition.
Thx for posting such a poignantly bittersweet story. Having flown into Eugene 30+ years ago, I’ve heard from oldtimers here in the African American community how difficult housing was for their community in those days. The story I heard was that the community was pushed into an enclave in the ferry street bridge, alton baker park area and managed to get only a trickle of city water supply through garden hoses. So, I suspect the two black players faced nearly as much difficulty finding housing off campus as on. If I’ve gotten any of this story wrong, my apologies to those who know it better than I do.