Blaze of Glory: Texas Western’s 1966 trailblazing victory

May 14th, 2009 - 11:53 pm ICT by GD  

When asked to comment on Don Haskin’s role in the historic 1966 Texas Western ‘Miners’ victory over the University of Kentucky Wild Cats, former Miner Steve Yeller, and current analyst for UTEP Men’s Basketball Radio Broadcast had credited Haskins’ trail-blazing breakthrough with creating “…major things that happened to get people thinking that black is equal to white.”

In a nation struggling to rethink it’s social prejudices in the light of political correctness, one man’s infallible conviction in the integrity of the game brought about a legendary transformation in the racial equation of collegiate basketball.

Instrumental in leading the first championship team to feature an all black starting line-up‚ in a predominantly African-American team (7 colored and 5 white players), Haskins caused the then Texas Western College to become the first college in a Southern State to integrate its inter-collegiate athletic teams.A feat that was made all the more remarkable by the fact, the then proportion of Afro-American students accounted for less than 1% of the college population.

Triumph of morale in the face of seemingly large odds and unrelenting adversity, and the symbolic overwhelming of racial disparities, inspired Hollywood in the creation of the‚ Disney/Bruckheimer feel-good, heart-warmer “Glory Road.”

Based on Don Haskin’s best-selling autobiography by Dan Wetzel, the movie owed it’s title to the stretch of road lying between the two basketball arenas on the campus, stretching from from Mesa Street to Sun Bowl Drive. But though in actuality, it’s significance ran deeper…

It was the road to self-discovery and a realization that, (in the words of a former Miner great), “You have to be who you are, no matter what.”

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