They made history!
Five Black University of Georgia football student-athletes reunited for the first time in five decades to be honored in Athens, WSBTV reports.
Fifty years ago, in 1971, Richard Appleby, Horace King, Chuck Kinnebrew, Clarence Pope, and Larry West made history as the first Black players to earn football scholarships to the University of Georgia (UGA). Dubbed “The Five,” the men went on to make history; now they’re reuniting to be recognized.
Photo Courtesy of UGA Athletic Association
All five are natives of Georgia, Kinnebrew attending West Rome High School, where he was also a champion wrestler. West grew up in South Georgia and was also the first Black person to enter middle school in Albany and first on the Albany High football team. Appleby, King, and Pop all met in high school when the three were Clark Central High School’s first integrated team during their senior year.
“The racism, the unrest, the National Guard, tear gas, we experienced all of that at the high school level. When we got to the University of Georgia, it was just a little bit better,” Appleby said.
They all left an indelible mark on the field; King became the first Black player to score a touchdown for the Bulldogs and had a career in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Appleby played tight end, and his touchdown to Gene Washington in 1975 helped the Daws beat Florida and was the first time a Black player threw a touchdown in the UGA program history, becoming a seminal moment in the Georgia-Florida rivalry.
Now, “The Five” have reunited for the first time in 50 years at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. They toured the exhibit put together in their honor that’s filled with artifacts from their heydays.
“The love is still there. We kind of drifted apart through the years, moved around. To get back together with the other four and be a part of everything that’s going on, it’s a little overwhelming. We had no idea what would happen 50 years later. This five was the right five,” Appleby said.
Kinnebrew said it felt like the first time they met all over again.
“We got together and knew there was something special, wasn’t quite sure what. We were able to develop relationships. Now we haven’t seen each other in 50 years, but it’s almost like we’ve known each other for ages. That’s the good part about it,” he said.
Appleby said he thinks that their shared work ethic and respect for one another made the group work. He also attributed their success to Coach Vince Dooley who was a massive support for them personally and professionally.
“We wanted everything to be fair and equal. I think we were able to accomplish that. We never yelled racism. We never blamed Coach Dooley. He gave everyone a fair chance…If not for Coach Dooley, I don’t think it would have worked,” Appleby said.
All five pioneers will be honored at Saturday’s game against South Carolina alongside Coach Dooley. A monument dedicated to them and placed in Reed Plaza next to Sanford Stadium will also be unveiled. The group said they knew they were doing something special, but could’ve never guessed the impact they’d have all these years later.
“We knew how important it was, but didn’t fully appreciate or understand the effect of it. But if you look at the numbers 50 years ago and compare the numbers to representative data, you see the tremendous amount of progress that has been made,” Kinnebrew said.
Thank you for changing the goalposts for those that came after you!
Congratulations to The Five!
Photo Courtesy of @Brooks_UGA/Twitter